SIM-swap victim feels betrayed by FNB, MTN

Johannesburg - Cape Town audiologist Gail Jacklin, who lost over R200 000 in a SIM-swap scam earlier this year, says she is emotionally drained and has lost trust in FNB and MTN.

Earlier this week, private consulting forensic scientist Dr David Klatzow told Fin24 about how MTN failed to prevent an unauthorised SIM-swap of Jacklin’s phone, which resulted in fraudsters stealing from her FNB accounts.

READ: Thousands of rands lost in 'FNB, MTN scam'

Klatzow said that Jacklin’s phone went on the “blink” at the end of December which was followed by her personal and business accounts being pilfered in early January.

“The cost of this emotional drain on myself and my partners cannot be recompensed even if we were fully financially reimbursed,” Jacklin told Fin24 by email.

“Personally, I have had to draw on multiple other sources and resources in order to keep going particularly as it is financial year-end and tax payments have to be covered, aside from my daily needs.

“Our business had to be sponsored from other sources, to keep going - pay salaries, pay suppliers, honour debit orders - while that account was blocked. The bank did extend our overdraft - at an increased rate - after we had gone through the tedious process of unblocking the business account and we are surviving on that until we can get back on to an even keel,” Jacklin said.

Jacklin said that her private FNB accounts are still blocked. She’s also changed her phone number.

READ: Dozens of cellphone users hit by SIM-swap scam

Victim of phishing?

In the aftermath of the scam, Dr Klatzow has alleged that Jacklin’s experience of SIM-swap fraud was the result of an alleged inside-job at FNB and MTN.

Earlier this week, FNB did not comment specifically about the details concerning Jacklin’s case.

The bank instead said that it employs a “robust security framework which is multilayered and accordingly our electronic channels remain a convenient and secure option for banking”. FNB, in its response, also warned customers in a statement to be wary of phishing scams.

Phishing scammers create fake emails, SMS messages and website login pages that try to trick unsuspecting users into handing over key details such as internet login usernames and passwords.

Jacklin, in turn, has told Fin24 that FNB told her that the bank “does not accept  liability for any loss which occurred due to phishing”.

But the Cape Town audiologist said she’s wary of such scams.

“I receive strange emails often, but no more than anyone else, and I either ignore and delete, or call the company the mail seems to relate to, or I forward the mail to a fraud line,” Jacklin told Fin24.

“I do very little emailing or banking on my phone. I use my work desktop or my Apple PC at home.

“The only odd text I recall seeing on my phone prior to the fraud, was a message reporting high usage of data – but other iPhone users were reporting the same message, so I disregarded that. There were no strange phone calls,” Jacklin said.

MTN on late Wednesday also issued a statement in which it said it is looking at a number of safeguards to better protect customers from illegal SIM-swaps. The company also urged consumers to protect themselves from the likes of online scammers.

Dealing with FNB, MTN

Jacklin said she’s spent “hours and hours” over evenings and weekends over the last two months trying to get responses or answers out of FNB and MTN.

She told Fin24 that after she was hit by the scam, an investigator from FNB was “efficient and professional, even though he was in the difficult position of having to divulge nothing to me about the course of the investigation”.

But Jacklin said that this particular FNB investigator has “oddly” been on leave over the last few weeks.

“For the rest, I do not think the process followed by FNB was up to standard as regards communicating with me, the speed of the investigation, and the support offered in light of my frozen accounts and credit cards while the investigation was in process,” Jacklin told Fin24.

Meanwhile, Jacklin further described MTN’s approach to her scam incident as “abysmal”.

“Total lack of response, poorly trained staff, lack of accountability and their letter of response  - which in their case came within days - was almost identical to the response letters sent to other ‘victims’,” Jacklin told Fin24.

“They admit that the three fraudulent SIM-swaps were done on my phone, but claim no liability for my financial loss. They claim the SIM-swap did not contribute to the bank access,” said Jacklin.

Jacklin, though, said that if MTN advised her about the SIM-swap, she could have been alerted that something illegal was about to happen. She also said that her loss of service meant she had no way to see that fraudulent bank transactions were occurring.  
“The SIM-swap allowed the fraudsters to transact on my account but MTN says they are not liable?” Jacklin told Fin24.

The experience, in its entirety, has left Jacklin feeling dismayed, she told Fin24.

“In a nutshell, the feeling of brand loyalty and belonging or safety that I previously had when encountering FNB and MTN in any way, has been replaced by something very different,” Jacklin said.

“The feeling is now very much that of betrayal and loss of trust,” she told Fin24.

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