The Bank of Bhutan (BoB) blocked transactions on all VISA international debit cards after suspicious transactions were reported to the bank yesterday.

The Bank spotted a total of 1,100 successful suspicious transactions after the contact center of the bank received the first complaint around 8am yesterday.

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

According to him, the exact cause of those transactions was not known and that the bank is  investigating.

The bank, however, reversed and credited the affected accounts by yesterday afternoon.

One of the affected clients, Damcho Tshering said he was unaware of the transactions until he saw 10 SMS alerts from the bank stating that the money has been debited from his account. “On checking, the transactions happened between 5 and 6am with Nu 131, 000 debited in 16 different transactions.”

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

The Chief Executive Officer of BoB, Pema Nadik, said that preliminary findings indicate that there had been lapses from the service providers who facilitate banking services. 

He added that the banking system has to ride on various systems operated by the service providers and that it might have triggered suspicious transactions. 

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

He said the bank’s nock team who works 24×7 has made it possible to work on the case immediately which otherwise could have taken time.

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

Tshering Zangmo