“This is banditry”: the financial ombudsman told how banks rob Russians

“This is banditry”: the financial ombudsman told how banks rob Russians


— What do clients of our banks most often complain about to you, as an ombudsman?

— The most common complaint is misselling, that is, a situation when citizens come to the bank to get one service, and they are “sold” another. As a rule, this happens when the depositor wants to either withdraw his savings or receive interest on them, and extend the deposit agreement itself. At the same time, a bank employee, who receives a significant part of his salary on a piece-rate basis, that is, in the form of a bonus for concluded contracts, persuades a person to sign a document of a completely different type. The operator does not even hide the fact that this is a different agreement, but claims that the new agreement is much more profitable than the old one. As a rule, a person who is processed in this way is transferred to the VIP division of the bank or some department where they serve clients better and deal with him “personally,” which increases the victim’s confidence. In fact, such a citizen is offered a product that is simply fraudulent.

– What is it called and what is the deception?

— The names of this product may be different, this is a marketing story, but in fact it is a type of insurance. The essence of the product is that the entire amount that a person kept on deposit (and often he saved it all his life) – say, about 200 thousand rubles – he is offered to place formally for a long period, assuring him that the income from this will be higher , and if desired, a person will be able to withdraw the amount he needs whenever he wants. In fact, after the victim has bought such a product for 200 thousand, she will have to pay a similar amount once a year, and sometimes every six months, to fulfill the concluded contract. If a citizen tries to return the money contributed under such an agreement, he will lose the entire or almost the entire amount.

— Doesn’t the Bank of Russia see how its wards are misleading gullible depositors?

– He sees and actually recognized even an earlier form of this scheme as fraud. The regulator even tried to ban this type of product, for which he described it in detail. However, this is precisely what made it possible for credit institutions to circumvent the regulator’s requirements. They slightly changed the form of the product, and now it does not fall under the description of a fraudulent scheme prohibited by the Central Bank, and it can be imposed on clients with impunity.

— Do the citizens themselves understand that they were deceived by the bank?

– Yes, but not right away. and this is another difference from classic telephone scams. While the victim of social engineering scams usually realizes what happened within one or two days, in the case of this product, awareness comes much later. Citizens usually understand that it is time to do something when they receive an SMS from the bank demanding the next payment, as large as the previous one. The victims get scared and begin to look for a way out of the situation. The second payment is usually made, although finding the money for it is a difficult task for almost everyone. As a result, the average accumulated payment, calculated for a large group of victims, is 408 thousand rubles. And then the affected citizen begins to understand that if he continues to be unable to deposit this amount every year or even six months over the next 30 years, he will lose the previously deposited money in whole or in part. It turns out that the contract contains a special table that legalizes robbery. If a client tries to withdraw his money in the first three to five years, then, as a rule, nothing is returned to him; if in the next five years, then they pay 30-50% of the investment, if after another five years, then 50-70%, and so on. . If a citizen withdraws money in the 30th year, he will lose “only” 14% of the invested amount or so. But what will happen to the accumulated money in 30 years? It is clear that they will turn into dust, and even with a deduction of 14%.

— There is no word “deposit” in the agreement and, in fact, this is a completely different financial product?

– Yes, and insurance. And sometimes this is insurance with the so-called “income sharing”, that is, the insurance company pretends that, using the amount provided by the victim, it not only insures the client, but also tries to provide him with additional income by investing part of the funds in some profitable enterprises. However, during all the time of my communication with the victims, no company has ever paid any of them additional income.

— Why do people enter into such agreements?

“Because they cannot imagine that such a solid and respectable organization, with which they have been familiar for many years in one way or another, can deceive. If a reputable and respectable employee of a reputable and respectable organization offers a more profitable product specifically designed for “loyal” customers, then it would be strange to disagree. In such cases, it is customary to reproach citizens for not reading the contract. I consider such a reproach to be pharisaical.

– What do you have in mind?

“Such an agreement is impossible to read, much less understand. Sometimes trivial due to the lack of glasses on the elderly clients, but always due to the lack of conscience on the part of the drafters of this document. Its average size is 20 – 25 pages. They are not written in a very large font, and inside the text there are the following phrases: “By accepting this Policy (paying the insurance premium), the Policyholder expresses a desire to enter into an Insurance Contract and confirms that before drawing up the Insurance Contract he received complete and reliable information about the Insurance Contract, including about the conditions and risks associated with its implementation…”. You can re-read this slowly and carefully at least 10 times: did you understand anything? It would be more honest to blame the Central Bank for not reading this deceitful text. However, I’m wrong. Is reading! And he even refers to it when responding to a citizen’s complaint. Like, you confirmed that you received complete information. What are you not happy with?

— Do you mean that we do not have an algorithm for checking what constitutes “receipt of complete information on a given product” by the client?

– Exactly! A citizen signs a statement that cannot be truthful, because when we receive information from someone, we cannot understand whether they provided it to us in full or not – we have nothing to compare with.

— Judging by the amount of contribution you mention, we are talking about Russians from the middle class. Are they somehow trying to solve the problem with the bank further?

– Of course, and here comes the second stage of the robbery. In a state of shock and upset feelings (how could “the most honest bank in the world” deceive them?!) the citizen goes to court, but without a lawyer he cannot get further than the office. And the lawyer is right there – and what a lawyer! He has already returned money to ten (hundreds, thousand – insert any number) victims. Moreover, with large compensation for moral damage and full compensation for legal expenses (that is, there is no point in skimping on fees). Of course, in reality, everything is limited by the fee. True, after a short time, the double victim receives a call from another, “honest” lawyer, who, quite by chance, learned about the vile act of the first, and offers to snatch a fee from the first for a similar reward. The result is obvious. And after that the citizen turns to me.

In one respect, I differ significantly from the three scammers described: I don’t take money from anyone. For others, the differences are not so striking: to put it mildly, I am not always able to return the money stolen from the applicant.

— Is this misselling product offered by all major banks?

– Almost. The largest banks act as agents for their own subsidiaries of insurance companies, while smaller banks negotiate with other companies.

— Did the victims who contacted you try to complain to the Central Bank?

– Yes, but at the Bank of Russia they are answered in the same way as the police once answered in relation to telephone scammers: “Well, you yourself signed everything and agreed to everything!” In other words, since a person was robbed in a qualified manner, then there is nothing to complain about. And the fight against telephone scammers comes first. Of course, we need to fight telephone scammers, but this fight (in practice we see more talk about it than real actions) should not distract society’s attention from a materially and socially more terrible phenomenon – the robbery of citizens by legal financial organizations.

— Who is most often robbed by telephone scammers is known and understandable, but what is the social profile of the victim of misselling?

“It seems to me that the community of victims, like a drop of water, reflects the entire population of Russians who have savings, but not too much. Among them there are both very educated and not very educated, with a strong nervous system and with a very weak one, prone to both fighting and formulating rhetorical questions or curses. There are also some very unusual characters.

– For example?

— Some time ago, I spoke on the phone with an elderly woman, a victim of misselling, living in the Novosibirsk region. She received the usual response to her complaint from the Central Bank. Much more than the Central Bank’s refusal to facilitate the return of her money, she was outraged by the grammatical errors in the letter. Since she was sure that the specialists working at the Central Bank were trained to read and write, she believed that errors were deliberately introduced into the text in order to insult and humiliate her.

– So what to do? Perhaps you can give some advice to bank clients so that they do not fall into such situations?

“If we want to fight misselling by giving recommendations to citizens, then there can only be one piece of advice: “Avoid the banks on the tenth route.” I’m afraid that such advice does not look constructive. Therefore, you will have to give advice to big bosses: “Be consistent!” If a telephone scammer falls into the hands of law enforcement officers, he is charged with Article 159 of the Criminal Code “Fraud, that is, the theft of someone else’s property or the acquisition of the right to someone else’s property by deception or abuse of trust…”

Dear bosses, do you think that a telephone bandit, whom a citizen has never seen in person, who prompted this citizen to “voluntarily” give about 16 thousand rubles, enjoys trust that can be abused. But a respectable bank, which occupies central offices on the most beautiful streets of our cities, and which carries out the same operation, only for 408 thousand rubles, has nothing to abuse? He doesn’t enjoy any trust!

However, in reality, if we demand the application of a criminal article to respectable and powerful organizations, we will achieve nothing but trouble. And by and large, this would be unfair: for years they turned a blind eye to this mass phenomenon, and then suddenly they noticed a contradiction.

Therefore, I think that we should encourage the Central Bank to issue an order to return to the citizen 100% of the money that was seized from him by a legal financial organization through abuse of trust, if the citizen expresses a corresponding wish. Moreover, this instruction should apply to all existing contracts, regardless of the date of their conclusion. The Central Bank knows better than us what measures should be taken to accompany such an instruction so as not to undermine the stability of the financial system.

It would also be very desirable for the Supreme Court to clarify whether it will be possible for someone in the future to abuse their trust with impunity.

— For now, these are all wishes for the future. What should those who have become victims of misselling do now?

“The problem is so large-scale that I, as an ombudsman, simply choked in the flow of complaints on this topic. And it seems to me that the victims of such fraud are already somehow organizing themselves to help themselves and others. They created several groups of fellow sufferers. From the messages of the group leaders it follows that the total number of those united is about 2000 people. But I am unable to control this data. It would be better to ask the question about the number of those deceived in the manner described above throughout Great Rus’ to the Central Bank. Its specialists are great at statistics.


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