Nica Richards
Deputy online news editor
3 minute read
20 Aug 2020
10:35 am

Absa clients left scrambling after R20m payment goes missing

Nica Richards

After not receiving a R20 milllion payment from a third party, the pair have been told by the bank that the account their money was paid into had been duplicated. To date, the money still has not been paid.

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For six weeks, two Absa customers have been given the run-around while trying to access funds paid to them to the tune of R20 million.

Lawyers acting on behalf of the clients, Steven and Sarah*, began their queries on 4 July after the pair – awaiting a R20 million payment from a third party for services rendered – did not receive the funds.

Enquiries with Steven and Sarah’s bank branch and banker proved fruitless, after no confirmation could be made of when the customers would receive their money.

They opened a case with Rosebank police on 23 July and on 27 July, Steven and Sarah were contacted by Absa, who queried certain bank charges relating to the pending R20 million payment.

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The pair explained that the funds were paid by a third party, but had not been received by them, and that the money was urgently needed to fulfil important financial commitments.

The matter was then handed over to the bank’s forensic team, and Steven and Sarah provided an affidavit to their legal representative.

An investigation ensued and Absa confirmed to the clients that the funds had been received in their account on 7 July, but were withdrawn from the account on the same day – but not by Steven and Sarah.

According to the duo, the bank’s investigators said it was likely the funds were withdrawn from within Absa bank, and that their account was somehow duplicated.

Sarah and Steven were told to expect a full refund within 48 hours of receiving a confirmation number from Absa’s insurers.

The Women’s Day long weekend came and went, but still Steven and Sarah had not received their money.

Enquiries were made again, prompting Steven and Sarah’s representative to meet with the bank’s representative, and to provide verification information needed to release the funds, on 13 August.

The next day, further enquiries revealed that the funds had been paid out on 13 August, but to the duplicated account that had since been closed when it was discovered and being investigated, according to Absa.

Sarah received a phone call from the bank’s investigator on Friday explaining that she still had not received her money because the money paid into the duplicated account had to be reversed.  

The investigator said Sarah’s account had to be refrozen due to “an unfortunate event on the Absa server”.

The clients’ representative was told to open a new account on Steven and Sarah’s behalf at the Absa Northgate branch, which was done on Wednesday. Sarah was told she would receive a one-time pin (OTP) number for her to receive her funds on Thursday. 

Steven and Sarah’s representative wrote to the bank again on Wednesday, slamming them for being unable to locate the forensic investigation and the record of transactions referred to in their previous letter, and said fraud was now strongly suspected from within the bank.

Sarah waited patiently to receive the OTP on Thursday morning, but instead awoke to news that since head office had gotten involved, her funds would not be released on Thursday, as promised. 

Steven made contact with The Citizen on Tuesday, citing that all other avenues to get his and Sarah’s money back had been exhausted. 

Absa bank’s deputy chief executive of retail and business, Bongiwe Gangeni, said she was not able to provide a detailed response to The Citizen’s queries. 

“Thank you for your query. As a customer-centric organisation, we pride ourselves in putting our customers first. While we would like to provide a comprehensive response to this query, our team is still investigating the matter. 

“Once all the relevant details are available, we will respond to the customer accordingly,” Gangeni said. 

At the time of publishing, Steven and Sarah were still awaiting the money that was paid into their account six weeks ago.

  • The names have been changed to protect the identity of the clients

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