BoB World App Scam: The RBI raised a red flag against the Bank of Baroda (BoB) and has suspended their mobile app ‘BoB World’ from onboarding new clients because of a 22 lakh fraud affecting 362 customers.

Nearly six customers have lost around Rs. 1.1 lakh each, whereas one lost almost Rs. 1.77 lakh, and an agent stole over Rs. 3.96 lakh.

So, what in the world is ‘BoB World’?

In September 2021, BoB, a public sector bank and India’s second-largest state-owned lender after SBI, launched its own digital banking app as the main banking platform, where users could “Save, Invest, Borrow, and Shop”.

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And for achieving milestones through financial and non-financial transactions, users would earn points/coins, which could be redeemed later.

But when does it start to go all wrong?

The bank staff were given a task – sign up customers for “BoB World”. At first, they were given a target of onboarding at least 150 existing customers. However, as days passed, the targets that BoB set started getting way too unrealistic, and they couldn’t meet them.

So, in a race to hit those crazy targets to move existing BoB customers to ‘BoB World’, the bank employees started bending the rules and found an easy way out to deal with the customers.

Most of the customers they were dealing with were from rural and semi-rural areas and were not digitally savvy.

They started fetching the list of bank accounts that were not linked to mobile numbers and started linking such accounts to any random mobile numbers they could gather.

The mobile numbers were of bank staffers, sanitation and security workers, and even their relatives.

Once linked, they would download the app, get the OTP sent to themselves, sign up the customer on ‘BoB World’, and then deregister these customers from the app. After everything is done, they reuse the same mobile numbers and repeat this with other bank accounts.

Even though customers were deregistered after signing up, it led to a fabricated increase in the number of downloads and sign-ups, thus artificially inflating the digital success of ‘BoB World’.

But here’s the scary part: the people whose mobile numbers were used could get access to the linked bank accounts, and it was possible to change passwords and take out all the money from the account.

Some bank employees even went as far as buying new SIM cards or taking out customers’ SIM cards, inserting it into their own smartphones, and signing them up to make fake registrations.

What were the actions taken against the ‘BoB World’ scam?

After the ‘BoB World’ scam was exposed by Al Jazeera and The Reporter’s Collective, the RBI stepped in and told the Bank of Baroda to suspend any further onboarding of their customers onto the ‘BoB World’ app until they fix their mess. 

The Bank of Baroda also suspended over 60 employees in response to this.

Now, it makes people wonder if they can trust banks, especially when public sector banks are involved in such shady stuff. What do you think about it?

Written By Shivani Singh

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