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When the ATM Dispense Fake Currency Note

There are some things you are almost certain will never happen in life – or at least, you won’t expect to happen. For example, the police shouldn’t connive with robbers, judges shouldn’t sell off justice and the army shouldn’t collude with the enemy. But then, that is in an ideal world which, unfortunately, I cannot say with total confidence that I live in. You will be shocked and a tad disoriented when things you do not expect to happen does. Shock and bewilderment would probably have succinctly described my feeling when I recently got dispensed a fake N1,000 note by a local automated teller machine (ATM).

Fake-Currency-Note

Fake currency note (right)

Behold the counterfeit!

I don’t know how naive I’ll sound if I said it never crossed my mind much that I will someday be dispensed a fake currency note by an ATM. I must have heard about such happening in the past, but I didn’t pay much attention. Guess you never really know where the shoe pinches unless you are the one wearing it. Sadly, it was my turn to have the unfortunate experience few weeks ago. I had gone to a Pan-African bank branch for a withdrawal. One of the N1,000 notes dispensed was counterfeit, but I did not realise it immediately. I went for deposit-making in about two other banks in the area and was not able to detect until about one and a half hours or two after making the said withdrawal.

The shocker came when I got to another bank’s cash deposit machine. One N1,000 note was rejected by the first machine tried and I started feeling suspicious. When the second machine turned down the note, I sensed something was wrong. After checking for some features, I became more certain that I have been dispensed a fake currency note. A rather saddening question cropped up my mind: how the heck am I going to prove my case?

Not from us

I decided to return to the bank where I made the withdrawal. The staff members, including the head teller and a customer care head, I spoke with claimed their machines do not dispense fake currency notes. I still asked them to verify if the note was indeed fake and, unsurprisingly, the reply was in the affirmative. Obviously, there was no way I could prove my case. So I was made to pay for something I wasn’t at fault for.

A part of me even told me the bank might have included the fake currency note intentionally so as to cut its loss for counterfeit notes some dubious characters had paid to it. One puzzling thing in all of this is the how a bank’s ATM would dispense a fake currency note without detecting and another bank’s ATM would be able to detect same when trying to make a deposit.

Care-free government

I observed in a quick search that there have been many cases of banks’ ATMs dispensing fake currency, including this complaint. Things like this happen because we have a care-free government, in my own opinion. Just like in the case of mobile network operators who send unsolicited messages and give bogus bonuses all in a bid to fleece the public and nobody seems interested in genuinely calling them to order, there is nobody to turn to in scenario such as this to fight your cause.

In India, there are certain steps one may take when dispensed a fake currency note at an ATM, with a possibility of the affected bank being penalised. But the same cannot be said of Nigeria. And to be candid, I do not think some of the steps suggested for reporting fake bank notes in the Asian country will yield any good fruit here.

In the end, I was thankful that there was only one fake N1,000 note in the amount withdrawn – it could have been more. I was also grateful that the note was not among the amount I deposited during prior visits to two banking halls because that would have been embarrassing, sort of. For apparent reason, I don’t think I will ever have anything to do again with the bank that dispensed the fake currency note. Future occurrence, which I pray do not happen, could spell an end to ATM use for moi.

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