Mrs. Rachael Bolaji Fadele, an 85 -year-old retired civil servant has taken ill after she was swindled N1million of her savings in her bank account. She had saved the money for her upkeep and burial. She is a widow and had also lost her only child to sickle cell at age 14. On a fateful day last year, she received a phone call from someone who claimed to be a banker.
A conversation ensued and within the twinkle of an eye, the money had been swiped from the elderly woman’s account. All efforts to retrieve the money proved abortive.
In this interview, the frail octogenarian who was visibly weighed down by the trauma shared her story with BABATUNDE AYEDOJU. She was assisted by her relatives, Mrs. Falodi and Mr Francis Awoha.
What’s your name and how did the incident happen?
My name is Rachel Bolaji Fadele, a retired civil servant. I worked and retired in Oyo State before relocating to Akure. I was in my house on that fateful day in October last year. Somebody called me, claiming to be a staff of First Bank. He told me my account and how much I had as savings. He said that he was sent to obtain my data, that they needed it in the bank. I initially felt reluctant and told him that my children were not around. He pleaded with me that I should supply the information he requested for, otherwise he would lose his job.
The conversation was on for more than an hour. As he mounted pressure on me, I ignorantly supplied the information he requested for. The next thing was he moved money out of my account to another account. The person kept deducting money from my account and he engaged his line, such that no call could get through to him. He said that he knew me very well as an elderly person, but I don’t know him.
How much did the person take from your account?
He stole over a million naira from my account, my whole life’s savings which I was saving ahead of my burial. He moved the money to an opay account. When one of my relatives challenged him that do you know you are doing this to a poor old woman and you will regret it? He said that he knew I’m an old woman and boasted that nothing would happen. I don’t know him from anywhere.
What steps did you take after the money was withdrawn from your account?
I had to go and report the matter at the bank but by then the suspect had already moved the money to another bank account. My people could not lock the account because we did not know any code by which we could have done that. When we got to the bank, they said that they did not authorise the transaction, that I was the one who authorised it. We were asked to engage law enforcement agencies. Therefore, we approached the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps (NSCDC) and the police, and they were able to help us track the suspect.
That was after we had written a letter to the bank. I wish there could be a code by which one can block one’s account in case anything like this happens. That way, we could have blocked the account as soon as the incident happened, before he could withdraw all the money. By the time we got to the bank, it was rather too late. Also, there should be aggressive media campaign, sensitising people on how to avoid falling victim of this kind of fraud.
What prompted you to save the money in your bank account?
Since I started working, I have been saving the money. I no longer have a husband or a child. I am the only one left. The only child I had was a sickle cell carrier. We needed much money to take care of him throughout the 14 years he lived. I did not enjoy the money. I spent it taking care of the child.
Moreso, I did not want any relative to bear the financial burden of my burial when I die. So I had been saving this money in my account. It is my whole life savings. I don’t have anybody to support me financially. I am a widow and my only child is also late, died of sickle cell.
Have you been able to recover any part of the money?
I have not been able to recover anything. The suspect is still in custody at the Olokuta Correctional Centre and the case is still in court. I am in court to seek redress over the matter. All I want now is justice. I don’t have anything for my upkeep and there’s nobody to take care of me. The money was all I had.
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