Accounts of International VISA cardholders of BoB hacked

The fraudulent transactions reportedly running into a few millions have been traced to Brazil

Bank of Bhutan (BoB) has lost millions in a fraudulent case of international debit card transactions that happened around 2am on Friday.

The fraudulent transactions using the VISA International Debit card of BoB clients have been traced to Brazil.

According to BoB officials, all transactions happened on Point of Sale machines and Automatic Teller Machines (ATM) in Brazil, indicating fraudulent pattern of activity.

By 8 am Friday morning, the BoB contact center was flooded with calls from their clients enquiring on the transactions.

The BoB has launched an internal investigation and is still in process of gathering more information. The Bank is yet to confirm the exact amount of money lost and the number of clients affected by this illegal transaction.

Chief Executive Officer of BoB Pema Namgyel Nadik said the bank is reversing and crediting all the affected cardholders. “There is nothing to be worried about and we will immediately refund the amount to the clients.”

He said the exact loss to the bank is not known at this moment since the bank will be submitting the chargeback to VISA. “The exact amount of loss incurred will be known only once the chargeback is accepted and agreed,” said Pema Namgyel Nadik.

According to Business Bhutan sources, as of now the total amount illegally transacted has been estimated anywhere between Nu 4mn and Nu 5mn and over 300 account holders have been affected.

A financial intelligence expert Business Bhutan spoke to said this fraudulent transaction could have happened because of the carelessness of the people while shopping online using their international VISA debit card. “They might have left crucial details of their cards which the hackers must have got wind of and used to hack their accounts.”

BoB has issued a pubic announcement on the suspicious transactions reported by the clients. The bank has stated that on investigation, it noticed that these transactions using VISA International Debit Card appeared suspicious.

“BoB has taken immediate steps to block further transactions on all VISA International Debit Cards till the bank completes the internal investigations,” states the announcement.

BoB has also informed the Royal Monetary Authority on the incident.

In a fraudulent transaction in 2016, an anonymous perpetrator had hacked e-mail account of one of Royal Audit Authority employees and asked the BoB to remit INR 1.2mn to India, USD 76,240 to Malaysia and USD 0.15mn to Thailand.

Dechen Dolkar from thimphu