(Trinidad Guardian) Detectives are investigating two separate incidents of attempted fraud against high-profile clients at RBC Royal Bank (RBC). Sources say the clients—a businessman and an attorney—were almost defrauded of more than TT$6 million at the Independence Square, Port-of-Spain branch of the bank.
Contacted on Friday, Sherry-Ann Singh, the bank’s regional manager of business communications-corporate communications and brand, in an e-mail response to queries posed by the Sunday Guardian, said, “RBC is aware of the allegations of attempted fraud and we are co-operating with the authorities in their investigations.”
Singh said because of the police investigations and the bank’s need to maintain client confidentiality, the bank could not give any details. Fraud Squad officers yesterday said they were following certain leads and hinted at the possibility that banking officials might be involved. Sources said the first incident was unearthed last Friday and involved the attorney.
On December 20, RBC received a written request purporting to be from the attorney. The letter asked the bank to transfer TT$5.9 million to another bank to cover a business transaction the lawyer was seeking to complete, and bore his signature. RBC transferred the money as requested, to the other bank, also in Port-of-Spain.
Sources said the fraudster/s apparently let the transferred cash sit in the other bank for over two weeks before attempting to retrieve it, by asking for a manager’s cheque to be made out for the amount on January 4. However, someone at the second bank apparently alerted the lawyer about the transaction as the bank was carrying out the fraudster/s orders last Friday.
Sources said the attorney, who rarely checks his account at RBC, had not been aware of the missing cash until he was alerted by the second bank. After being alerted, the lawyer went to RBC and alerted them about the fraudulent transaction. Management immediately contacted the other bank and, luckily for the attorney, the fraudster/s had not yet turned up to collect the cheque.
The transaction was terminated and the attorney was able to recover the money. Contacted about the incident, the attorney confirmed it occurred, but said he did not want to be named, as his family was traumatised by the incident. He said the bank was investigating the matter and he would leave it in their hands.
Businessman targeted, too
Fraud Squad officers had hardly begun investigations into the first incident when the fraudsters struck again, this time targeting a businessman. Sources said last Tuesday, the fraudsters would have got away with almost US$60,000 if the businessman had not been more alert to activity in his account.
In this case, the fraudster/s again asked RBC to transfer money to another bank to cover a business transaction, but this time did so by e-mail. Police said some US$35,000 was fleeced from the businessman in two separate fraudulent transactions before he realised there was a discrepancy with his account. The fraudsters targeted his account again.
RBC: We work to protect clients
Sherry-Ann Singh, in her e-mail response to the Sunday Guardian, said although no institution could prevent fraud 100 per cent, at RBC there was a zero-tolerance policy and that the bank worked hard to “protect its clients and operations from financial crime.” Singh said maintaining its clients’ trust was a fundamental responsibility of paramount importance.