Annual Financial Awareness Campaign
18-24 March 2024

Noah lost funds when he transferred them to a fraudulent IBAN number

On 2 March 2020, Noah attended his bank to transfer €29,000 to the UK in a same day transfer. The next day, he realised that the IBAN he used in the transfer form was not correct and in fact it was fraudulent.

Noah phoned his bank at 17:16 on 3 March to stop or freeze the transfer. He spoke to a bank agent who said that the fraud department were not available after 17:00 and someone would contact him next day. The bank agent recommended he email customer service with the details.

At 22:30 on the same day, Noah contacted the receiving bank in the UK, which stated that he should have his own bank's fraud department contact them directly. Noah had left a message with his bank's branch manager earlier at 18:00 and at 23:00 he spoke to an agent, who again advised Noah that the Fraud Department were not available until the next day.

On 4 March 2020 at 08:52, Noah made multiple attempts to contact the branch manager by phone, email and text, without response. Following this, Noah phoned the bank and was unable to connect to the fraud department. Noah then phoned customer service and was told the matter had been sent to the receiving bank. Noah's bank rang him at 09:30 to inform him of the name of the fraud agent who was investigating the issue. Noah could not contact the fraud agent, so he went to his bank's headquarters, where a member of the Financial Crime Department met Noah and advised him that they had contacted the receiving bank.

On 22 April 2020, Noah was advised by his bank that €824.55 had been lodged to his account two days earlier and that further refunds were unlikely. Noah then discovered a further €8,929 had been refunded to him 4 days earlier without notice to him.

Noah complained to the bank regarding its customer service and requested that the remaining amount of €19,246.45 be refunded to him. Noah's bank explained that upon notification of the fraudulent transfer on 02 March 2020, it had contacted the receiving bank in the UK by phone to attempt a SWIFT recall at 17:34, via email at 17:51 and by phone again at 18:00. The bank received a replying email the following day stating that the account had been frozen and a recommendation that an indemnity be sent. The bank responded 9 minutes later to confirm the wording required and it provided this wording at 15:52 and the formal indemnity was issued at 16:43

The bank also outlined that there is no agreement or legislative basis for interbank recalls for fraud between Ireland and the UK. The bank explained that it acted in good faith when processing the payment and had no way of knowing that the IBAN details it had been given, were fraudulent.

In rejecting Noah's complaint, the Ombudsman was satisfied that the bank had acted promptly and within 37 minutes upon being advised of the fraud by Noah. The following day the bank had actively followed up with the UK bank and had responded to the UK bank's emails each time, within 9 and 51 minutes respectively. The Ombudsman was satisfied this was an adequate and reasonable service.

The Ombudsman stated that there was no delay by Noah's bank in seeking to impose the account freeze. The Ombudsman also noted that Noah's bank would not have access to the names of account holders in other banks and as a result, it could not identify that these details did not match the IBAN. The Ombudsman did not uphold the complaint.