A Lagos-based unemployed lady, Chiamaka Agim, who claims to be a former employee of Zenith Bank Plc, tells GODFREY GEORGE how over N4m was ‘fraudulently’ debited from her Zenith Bank account on January 9, 2023, without her authorisation, and her fight to get the money back
You claimed that over N4m was fraudulently withdrawn from your Zenith Bank account. How exactly did it happen?
I should be asking Zenith Bank how it happened. It is in the bank that my money was lodged and it is in that same bank, under their watch, that my money was fraudulently stolen, and they have not given me a satisfactory response as to how they will refund the money I kept in their care. It happened on January 9, 2023, at about 8.43pm. I got a debit alert, first to an Access Bank account. It was N3.7m, transferred from my account to the Access Bank account. I was confused because I knew I never authorised such transactions. I couldn’t have done such a transaction in the first place. That money is my life’s savings. Why will I transfer it to an unknown Access Bank account just like that? It does not add up. I want to state it clearly that I didn’t authorise that transaction. Before I would know what was happening, I got another alert of N222, 900 in a space of just one minute. I was trying to go into my mobile app to check what was happening when I saw the alert sent to the same Access Bank account where the first N3.7m was illegally transferred to.
It was not even up to another minute, I got another debit alert of N102, 000 to a UBA account. Everything withdrawn was over N4m. What was left in my account was about N12, 900.
What did you do next?
I couldn’t even breathe well. I couldn’t think. In a space of five minutes, my entire life’s savings were wiped off. I don’t know who did this and I don’t know how it happened but I am begging Zenith Bank to refund my money.
Have you visited the bank?
I visited the bank the following day and I don’t know what they are saying. They are telling me what I don’t understand. They said I authorised a token and something of the like, but I have never authorised any token of any sorts on my Zenith Bank account. I have visited Access Bank as well to trace the transaction and they told me that the money had been ‘moved’. By ‘moved’, they mean the money had left the account.
The point is that I am an ex-staff (member) of Zenith Bank. I worked with their Apapa branch. The account in question was a staff account opened by the bank to pay my salaries and other emoluments. Zenith Bank should just return my money. N4m cannot be fraudulently taken from my account and they are telling me that it is gone like that. It is not possible. I won’t have it. They have to refund my money. I don’t have any other money anywhere. I don’t have any other bank account anywhere. That is my entire life’s savings that has just been wiped off in a twinkle of an eye.
Did you at any point misplace your ATM card or your phone?
My ATM card and my phone are here with me. I didn’t misplace them.
Did you at some point authorise any online transaction?
I don’t shop online at all. I don’t even use Apple Music, which is for iPhone users. That is how badly I avoid online transactions. The bank is claiming that my daily limit is N200, 000. If this is so, how will they process a transaction of over N4m without following the proper channel? Why will they authorise that transfer without my express consent and authorisation? Is this not fraud? I am begging Zenith Bank and the Central Bank of Nigeria to help me get my money back?
When you went to Zenith Bank, what exactly did they say you should do?
They told me write letters and I have written letters upon letters and submitted them to them. I went there since 8am on January 10. I don’t know who to run to. I don’t know how to start pursuing this case. I call on the President, Muhammadu Buhari, to come to my aid. I am going to die. This is frustrating. I won’t survive this. I don’t have any account anywhere at all. This is all I have saved all my life. How do I live knowing that I have to start all over again? Everything was wiped off! Zenith Bank is telling me to write a letter. How will they authorise a transaction of that magnitude without any notification? I cannot even begin to understand this wickedness!
My house rent is in that money that has been wiped off. I have a lot of things I need that money for. It is not N40,000 or N400, 000. It is over N4m. Everything was drained. Zenith Bank should, please, refund my money.
Have you reached out to a lawyer for legal advice?
I need a lawyer, a team of lawyers, in fact. I want anybody that can help me to, please, come to my aid. I am going to die. I am sure I won’t be able to survive this. I need help, and I need my money back. I don’t have any other money. I trekked to that bank and I trekked back. It is that bad. I haven’t been able to eat since the day this thing happened. I don’t know what else to do. I need help. My N4m should be transferred back to me.
Have you visited the bank’s headquarters to lodge a formal complaint?
I went to their headquarters on Victoria Island, Lagos, after they sent me a mail, stating that I used a token to do the transfer. I don’t have any token with Zenith Bank. I don’t know what they are talking about. They said the United Bank for Africa account where the N122, 000 was fraudulent transferred to does not ‘depict a fraudster’. I don’t know what that means. It is not making any sense. I just want my money back. I don’t have any money. I don’t have anybody in Lagos. I am literally in this city on my own. I didn’t steal this money. It is my sweat and blood, in the rain and in the sun. I suffered and starved to save up that money. I came to Lagos in August, 2021 to make a living for myself. I have been sick. My landlord has been on my neck.
I lost my job in December 2021, and I planned to use that money to start up a business. Now, they are telling me that they cannot find my money.
The bank, in a statement, said they have been able to retrieve about N800, 500 from the Access Bank account. Are you aware of this?
How can I collect N800, 500 out of N4m? These people want me to die. I will commit suicide o! I don’t know what else to do. I am not a thief. I didn’t do anything fraudulent. Zenith Bank should just credit me. I have all the evidence of payment, stating the accounts this money was transferred to. They should just retrieve my money for me. The money was in their care.
How can they say that they were able to get only N800, 500? They even said I should get a court order before they can refund me, and for any other money, they are not liable for my loss. I remember the very first day I went there, one of the staff members told me to thank God that I am still alive. These people are very insensitive. They don’t care about the poor masses. If I were a celebrity or an influential person, they would have answered me quickly.
Please, the way they retrieved the N800, 500, they should retrieve the remaining. I don’t know what else to do. They have seen that I don’t have anyone that will fight for me.
Have you sent a mail to CBN’s Consumer Protection Unit?
Of course, I have done that. I even tagged them online, and they told me to provide details, which I have. They then said they would get back to me in 72 hours. I am still waiting.
The bank still insists that you were issued a token. How true is this?
I said I was not given any token by Zenith Bank. If they claim that that I used a token, they should provide evidence where I signed a token form or where I requested a token. There is no such record. It is obvious this was done by an insider in the bank.
Have you reported the case to the police?
I have not done that. I am waiting for legal advice.