Ataur Rahman passed away in 2016. But, in a bizarre case, Dutch-Bangla Bank records show the deceased as "alive".
According to the bank's documents, Ataur opened an account at its Mirpur 10 branch in late 2018 – nearly three years after his death.
Around Tk65 lakh was transacted through the account in the last two years. The unusual transactions made the bank authorities suspicious and prompted them to look into it.
In the meantime, a police investigation found that the bank account was being used by a Nigerian citizens-led "fraud gang" involved in swindling people out of money in the name of gift-giving on social media.
Investigators suspect Bangladeshis associated with the gang opened the account in a dead man's name in collusion with bank officials. They said they are trying to find out the culprits.
Minakhi Sultana, wife of the deceased, said bank officials told her that she has been made a nominee in the account – but she was completely unaware as to who opened the account and how.
"My husband died five years and two months ago. Collecting my husband's NID number and photograph, they opened the account. I have appointed a nominee to the account. The gang used my photo in the account. The signature used in the account in the name of my husband is fake," she told The Business Standard.
Minakhi further said, "I have a son. After the death of my husband, we have been living in the Rayer Bazar area of the capital. This account has caused me a lot of troubles. The police and bank authorities have interrogated me several times. But the culprits are yet to be identified."
Asked how the account was opened when the applicant was dead, Monzurul Kadir, senior assistant vice-president and manager of the Dutch-Bangla Bank, said, "We looked into this matter. As far as we found Ataur Rahman was alive. However, we noticed that unusual transactions were made using this account. We informed the higher authorities about it and asked for necessary action."
How the issue came up
After being cheated by a "gift fraud" gang, a woman named Rahima Khatun filed a case with the Airport police station in this connection.
According to the case statement, Rahima received an email that said she got an expensive gift from abroad and that the gift had already arrived at the airport.
The email further read that to release the gift from the airport customs, Rahima needed to pay $600 as customs duty. The email senders also provided a bank account number to pay the money.
Accordingly, she paid Tk42,000 through the account in the hope of getting the "expensive gift", but later came to realise that she had been cheated.
Eventually, the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) arrested a Nigerian gang in the capital in this case.
They also detected a bank account number of Dutch-Bangla Bank that the arrested Nigerian gang had been using for receiving money from their victims.
During investigation, they came to know that the account was opened using a dead person's name.
Investigators said they are trying to catch those who opened the bank account.
CID sources said they suspect some Bangladeshis are involved with the Nigerian gang and they opened the account in connivance with some bank officials.
Jakir Hossain, additional superintendent of the CID, told The Business Standard that they are investigating the case. "We are trying to find out who are behind the scene," he said.