Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

Forensic scientist David Klatzow, who has acted for victims of online banking fraud, says the banks "play fast and loose" with customer information and their forensic reports that he has seen do not stand up to scrutiny.

Klatzow says that when customers have large sums of money lying in bank accounts that don't pay much in interest, it's not uncommon for these customers to receive unsolicited calls from agents of the bank offering to invest this money for a better return.

Absa clients Johan and Maatje du Plessis, who lost about R880000 in a SIM-swap fraud, told Money that a few months before they were defrauded they were phoned by an investment consultant in the bank, who said he had "noticed a substantial amount" in their savings account and offered to help them invest it for a better return.

Klatzow says he has encountered such an agent, who claimed to be working for a bank and even used the bank's letterheads, but turned out not to be a bank employee.

Banks have a fiduciary duty to their customers, he says. "They are extremely careless with your personal information but are quick to blame you for failing to be careful with yours."

Klatzow says the "so-called" forensic reports provided by the banks seen by him do not stand up to scrutiny. "I've never seen one that does," he says.

"If you want an investigation worth more than a row of beans, you don't do it yourself. The results are always disastrous. You never send the fox to investigate crimes in the henhouse. You get a qualified, independent third party," he says, suggesting that customers should not rely on the forensic report provided by the bank unless they have it checked out by a third party.

Having done work for customers of all the banks, Klatzow says that among his clients, Absa customers who have contracts with Vodacom "are over-represented for whatever reason".

Phumza Macanda, the head of media relations at Absa, says fraud is an industry-wide issue and to single out Absa is both prejudicial and inaccurate. "A fair and objective way would be to speak to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre to get an objective view of fraud in the industry."

But Sabric does not report on statistics relating to internet banking fraud.