The bank said all suspicious transactions were done from Point of Sale (POS) and ATM machines in Brazil

Guwahati: Bank of Bhutan (BoB) blocked transactions on all its VISA international debit cards after several suspicious transactions were reported to the bank on Friday.

The bank received the first complaint at 8 am on March 22, following which, it spotted a total of 1,100 successful suspicious transactions.

BoB spokesperson Passang Norbu said all transactions were done from Point of Sale (POS) and ATM machines in Brazil. The transactions occurred around 2 am, local time. “This presented a fraudulent pattern of activity,” he said.

The bank, reversed and credited the affected accounts affected until the afternoon of March 22. Investigations are on, but the bank is yet to ascertain the exact cause of the transactions, Norbu was quoted as saying by media reports.

Damcho Tshering, one of the affected persons was quoted as saying by media reports that he was unaware of the transactions until he saw 10 message alerts from his bank, stating that money has been debited from his account. “On checking, the transactions happened between 5 and 6 am with Nu 131,000 [Bhutanese currency] debited in 16 different transactions,” he added.

He said that the bank informed him that debited amount would be credited back into his account.

BoB CEO Pema Nadik was quoted as saying by media reports that according to the preliminary findings, there had been lapses from the service providers who facilitate the banking services. The banking system has to ride on various systems operated by the service providers and it might have triggered the suspicious transactions, he added.

Tshering applauded the bank’s NOC team and said, they work 24X7, and it was them who made it possible to work on the case immediately which otherwise could have taken time.

Further, he said, “BoB is the only bank that has conducted system audit twice to ensure all the loopholes in the system are well taken care of.”

Passang Norbu said the chargeback would soon be submitted to VISA in regard to all the reported suspicious transactions. “Unless it accepts and agrees to the chargeback, the exact probable loss to the bank will not be known,” he said.

The total number of VISA international debit card users and the total amount of money involved in the suspicious transactions are not yet known.

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