2 teachers report losing nearly $140k in suspected debit card cloning Loop Jamaica

The content originally appeared on: Jamaica News Loop News

Two dedicated educators from St Ann and Portland say they are disheartened after they reportedly fell victims to a series of fraudulent attacks on their bank accounts, losing a combined total of almost $140,000 in the process.

The teachers who wish to remain unnamed, are devastated by the loss of their hard-earned money, particularly during the festive Christmas season. 

The details of their plights came the same week that the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) expressed outrage over what it claimed was a surge in fraudulent attacks on the financial accounts of teachers across the island.

In expressing her distress and frustration, one of the educators told LoopNews last week that she has always protected the information on her bankcards when they are used in public. 

“I felt absolutely heartbroken discovering that $65,000 had vanished from my account through unauthorised debit card transactions,” she said, recounting the shock of receiving emails detailing purchases made at various online stores on December 5.

The stores included two popular online shopping companies, Amazon and Shein.

“I’ve never shopped at these places with my Visa debit card, and there were no suspicious charges on my credit card, which I use to shop with online at these places, so it’s very strange that this happened,” the St Ann educator claimed.  

Equally troubled, the other teacher revealed, “I was left in disbelief, shocked actually, when I checked my account and found an unknown withdrawal of $74,200, effectively depleting my entire balance in it. 

“This occurred on December 9, and I can assure you, I never authorised such a withdrawal from any ATM in St Andrew, and my card has always been with me (in Portland),” the woman shared.

Both educators immediately reported the matter to their respective financial institutions, which subsequently assured them that the matters have been escalated for investigations to take place.

The identity of the financial institutions are being withheld at this time.

When contacted for updates on Saturday, the women said the matters have not been rectified, despite being reported early, leaving them crestfallen, especially as the holiday period approaches. 

Both women have since had their debit cards replaced, but remain uneasy that they could be targeted again.

As they remain uncertain about whether they will receive their money that was allegedly defrauded, the teachers are now considering reporting the incidents to the police.

Another senior teacher who also preferred to remain anonymous, disclosed that several of her colleagues in at least four parishes have reported similar incidents, with funds disappearing from their bank accounts, or fraudulent transactions occurring on their credit cards.

JTA President Leighton Johnson, in an audio statement to the media on Thursday, voiced outrage over the alleged rising number of fraudulent attacks on the financial accounts of educators across the island.

Johnson alleged that the bank accounts of a number of teachers have been cloned and cleaned out by fraudsters over several weeks. He did not name the financial institutions.

“What is particularly disheartening is the reported reluctance of certain banks to promptly investigate and rectify these fraudulent activities, leaving our teachers in distress,” Johnson stated.

Continuing, he said: “Teachers who play an invaluable role in shaping the future of our nation deserve the utmost respect and support. 

“The financial strain caused by these incidents not only impacts the individual teacher, but also has wider implications for the educational community as a whole,” Johnson further stated. 

The JTA president expressed concerns about teachers potentially losing their salaries to the fraudsters, and called on the banks to promptly refund the victims. 

He emphasised the need for timely communication and transparent processes to restore trust that is being eroded by the unfortunate events.

Furthermore, Johnson urged financial institutions to implement better security measures to reduce the likelihood of card cloning. 

“… We urge the banks to expedite the process of refunding the stolen funds to the affected teachers, recognising the urgency of their financial situation,” he insisted.

In light of the distressing incidents, the JTA is advising teachers to closely monitor their bank accounts and immediately report any suspicious activity to their financial institutions.