190303 nawal sheriff
Nawal Sherif says she toiled for decades to make her life savings, a part of which she lost as exchange rate difference Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Ajman: A 70-year-old woman has urged residents to be extra cautious when filling out bank forms after losing more than Dh50,000 for missing two characters when sending money to Canada.

Long-time Ajman resident Nawal Sherif transferred Dh832,000 from her Mashreq Bank account to her overseas account in a Canadian Bank on January 23.

The Palestinian expatriate had planned on sending a smaller amount of just Dh330,000 five days before but was advised by bank representatives to come back when the exchange rate was more favourable. They called her back on January 23.

I have been saving that money since the 1980s when I started working as a teacher with a meagre salary of Dh6,000 and children to support. If I had lost the money by spending it, I can live with it. But since I lost it this way, that’s what’s painful

- Nawal Sherif

“I was travelling to Canada so I needed the money and I wanted to help my son and daughter-in-law there as well. So I decided to wire my whole life savings of Dh832,000 to my bank account in Canada,” Nawal, a retired Arabic teacher told Gulf News.

“It was my first time to transfer that much money. So I asked for help if they have an Arabic-speaking teller as my English is not perfect but no one was available at that time.”

Missing characters

Nawal said she filled out the bank form and asked the teller to check if the details she had written corresponded with the bank details she had on her phone.

Six days later, however, she received an SMS saying approximately Dh780,999.12 was credited to her account. The bank informed her that the money she sent to Canada earlier was returned due to two missing characters in the bank form: the third letter T in the Swift Code and one digit in her Canadian bank account.

“The bank explained that the Dh51,000.88 that I lost in between was due to the exchange rate difference when I wired the money and when it was returned,” Nawal said.

Dh51000

was what she lost in wire transfer

When contacted, a Mashreq official said: “We understand that the customer has acknowledged having entered the incorrect account number. Given that this is a genuine oversight and her long-standing relationship with Mashreq, we have offered to make a 50 per cent contribution towards the shortfall,” Mashreq told Gulf News in a statement.

Banks and exchange houses have means to check if there are errors in Swift Codes as they are readily available online. But they have no way of knowing if an international bank account is missing a digit unless an IBAN is provided.

Nawal had one advice to residents: “I have been saving that money since the 1980s when I started working as a teacher with a meagre salary of Dh6,000 and children to support. If I had lost the money by spending it, I can live with it. But since I lost it this way, that’s what’s painful,” she said. “I advise residents to not only double check but to triple check the bank details so they wouldn’t experience what I had gone through.”