MONTEGO BAY, St James — For almost a year now Shelly-Ann Watt Gammon has been arguing with National Commercial Bank (NCB) after she discovered that her accounts were compromised and a loan of more than $500,000 was approved, using her identity.
“On the 30th of May 2022, I went online to pay my credit card and I observed that no money was in my account. Immediately, I called customer care and I was told it was not hard to find out what had happened because they could see where the money was being transferred to other NCB accounts. I was also told that a loan of $508,000 was taken in my name, so that appeared on the account,” Watt Gammon told the Jamaica Observer.
That, she told the Sunday Observer, was the beginning of an overwhelming journey as she soon learnt that an account she utilised to save emergency funds for her young daughter was also targeted. She alleged that a combined total of $162,000 went missing from both accounts.
Watt Gammon, a teacher, stated that she visited NCB’s Savanna-la-Mar branch where she made a formal report of the incident.
“When I got paid in June, I had to go to the branch to get my money because they had frozen my account. They would e-mail the fraud team, so I could get permission to get the money that I went for,” she said.
But she told the Sunday Observer that she was also met with avoidance by employees at the branch whenever she sought updates on the money that allegedly went missing from her account.
“This is what got me mad now. I went to the branch and saw a young man there working on the floor. I asked to speak to the manager, and he returned and said that the manager is not in. I asked him if I could speak to the person next to the manager, and he said that they asked… what I wanted,” Watt Gammon said.
“I was apparently lost in the system. I didn’t even get a case number. Sometimes I would talk to these people and they assured me that something would be done, but nothing ever comes from those conversations,” she added.
Watt Gammon said she then began to receive e-mails from the bank about recovery of the loan and noticed that money was being withdrawn from her account. She showed the Sunday Observer copies of those e-mails and a bank statement showing the deductions that were made.
However, she maintained that though the bank ensured to collect repayment for the loan, her cries for help were falling on deaf ears as there were no updates or signs of investigation taking place. She also believes that she was being victimised.
“I then received another e-mail from the delinquency management and debt recovery. It was a threat because they said if I don’t pay within 10 days they are going to take legal action,” she said.
“On the 30th of September, I went to Icon pharmacy in Westmoreland to fill my prescription and while using the card, it declined, twice. I called customer care and asked what was happening, and a supervisor told me that they took the money for loan recovery and that I should go to the police station to make a report,” said Watt Gammon.
She told the Sunday Observer that a report was made at the Savanna-la-Mar Criminal Investigations Branch (CIB) and Summit Police Station in St James. Noting that she has paid over $48,000 in loan recovery before deciding to switch banks, Watt Gammon is demanding answers from NCB.
“How could they give someone a loan of over $500,000 without them coming into the branch to sign off on that? They even said that they see where a token for my account is hooked up to an iPhone, but I use Samsung. They are behaving as if I left my money on the counter there. My money was in the care of NCB,” Watt Gammon said.
“If I do withdrawal or any transactions, I would get an alert, whether an e-mail or SMS message. This time I got nothing at all. I asked them what would have given me the privilege of getting that loan. I live pay cheque by pay cheque, so what would give me the privilege? That loan would never be for me,” she added.
When the Sunday Observer contacted the NCB Savanna-la-Mar branch, an employee stated that though she is aware of the issue, she is not authorised to comment and asked that the newspaper contact the bank’s media team.
In an e-mail response to the Sunday Observer, NCB Brand Media stated that they were unable to comment on the matter, due to privacy obligations.
“We take all customer reports seriously and have reached out to the customer to address the concerns. However, due to privacy obligations, we are unable to comment further,” the e-mail stated.
It added, “We take this opportunity to remind all of our customers to be vigilant in protecting their personal information and to never click on links in e-mails or text messages that look like they have come from NCB (we do not send links via e-mail or text message), or share personal data in response to unsolicited requests. We encourage customers who detect errors, discrepancies or suspected, unauthorised activity on their account to reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”