Customers scam banks with fake visas, tickets for forex

The Central Bank of Nigeria has vowed to engage financial crime fighting agencies to pursue fraudsters who have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to buy forex at cheap rates and sell at higher rates at the black market, NIKE POPOOLA reports

Eight weeks after the Central Bank of Nigeria stopped selling forex to Bureau De Change operators and asked legitimate travellers to approach the banks to access cheap forex, the banks have been inundated with fake demands, findings have revealed.

More customers have been deceiving the banks with fake documents to obtain the forex at cheaper rate, and prevented genuine travellers from gaining access to forex.

The CBN Governor, Godwin Emefiele, had said that the BDCs defeated their purpose of existence to provide forex to retail users and had become wholesale and illegal dealers.

“They have remained renegade and so greedy, recalcitrant with abnormally high profit from these sales while ordinary Nigerians have been left to feel the pain and therefore suffer,” he said.

He said the CBN had maintained its stand to discontinue the sale of forex to the BDCs.

Emefiele urged any Nigerian who had legitimate business to conduct to take the business to the banks to buy cheap forex.

He also said the banks would sell forex to travellers to pay for school fees and medical bills.

According to him, travellers could access up to $4,000 for Personal Travelling Allowance and $5,000 for Business Travelling Allowance.

He added, “I want to put it on record that if the amount you want is above the limit that is recognised and we find that the reason you are making those demands is legitimate, the bank will speak to us and we will give you what is even more than the limit.

“If you have dollars to sell, go to your bank. We will continue to monitor the banks.”

Findings, however, showed that the banks have been reporting fraudulent forex demands to the CBN.

Confirming this, Emefiele said, “We conducted a study; one of the banks in one day sold to 52 people who said they wanted to travel. After two weeks, they went to check, 40 out of the 52 had cancelled their tickets.

“How could you have a situation where about 70 per cent or 80 per cent who went to bank to buy BTA on the reason that they want to travel, banks sold to them, they turned back and went and sold to the black market. They were asked to return it and we are going to pursue you if you are involved in these nefarious activities.”

Emefiele added, “If you go to bank with fake visa, fake passport, we have told them not to sell to you. If they sell to you mistakenly, and after two weeks, we check and find that you cancelled your ticket or your visa is fake, they will call you because you are their customer.

“They have your BVN, they have your number, they will call you to return the dollars. If you do not return it, they will place your name on their website, your BVN on their website, we will pick those details.

“We will send them to EFCC and other crime agencies, they will pursue you and you must return the dollars because you cannot acquire it illegally. That is our position.”

However, some legitimate travellers have complained that they applied for forex at their banks but could not get it before their trips.

A traveller, who identified himself just as Felix, said, “My wife applied for PTA at the bank. Today, they called to inform her that they do not have dollars and she should seek alternative means from BDCs.

“This was despite sending mails out that travellers could buy forex five hours before their trip.”

Another traveller, who did not want to be named, said, “I applied for forex and was going to the bank and spending hours there for three days but they did not sell to me and did not inform me that they would not sell to me after wasting my precious time.”

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