Local outlets publish misleading reports about UK bank transferring money to Pakistani accounts

Accidental deposits were made into British bank accounts

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Claim: The UK’s Santander Bank mistakenly deposited millions of pounds across 75,000 consumer accounts.

Fact: The British bank has, in fact, erroneously deposited £130 million across  75,000 consumer accounts. However, the payments were only made into the accounts of Santander’s UK customers.

[People’s bank balance shot up, check your accounts, bank mistakenly deposits millions across 75,000 accounts]

Fact or Fiction

According to a CrowdTangle analysis, ARY News Urdu was the first local outlet to share the news about the erroneous deposits in a 2 January 2022 post on its Facebook page.  Multiple Facebook pages in Pakistan — including Daily Ausaf, News1, Troll Pm Imran Khan Haters, News24 Hourz — then picked up the story.

Most Facebook pages used the same thumbnail image in their posts — the image features Pakistani currency, which is misleading as it suggests that Pakistani currency has been mistakenly deposited into people’s bank accounts. 

While the Santander Bank did accidentally deposit £130 million of its own reserves across 75,000 consumer accounts, the payments were only made into UK accounts. 

A CNBC story published on 30 December 2021 quoted a Santander spokesperson as saying, “We’re sorry that due to a technical issue, some payments from our corporate clients were incorrectly duplicated on the recipients’ accounts.”

Various websites also picked up the story following ARY News Urdu’s initial post, including Daily Ausaf, Pakistan News International, wavenewz.com and hassannisar.pk

While the websites in the bodies of their articles did clarify that the incident took place in the UK, the headlines of their stories did not refer to the UK, nor did they mention the name of the bank or that the error only affected UK-based customers. The aforementioned websites are local platforms and so most readers are likely to assume the error is relevant to Pakistani consumers. 

Further, the content of the reports published by these various websites – Daily Ausaf, Pakistan News International, and Hassannisar.pk – is exactly the same, indicating that the story was reshared word-for-word. 

However, ARY News Urdu’s report published on 2 January 2022 had original content and the cover photo of its story featured pound notes and coins, which is representative of the true story. 

Virality

The report became significantly popular and was shared by multiple Facebook pages, many of which carried the story in question with the same or very similar headlines and/or captions. Soch Fact Check used three search terms for a CrowdTangle analysis, which are as follows:

  • لوگوں کے بنک بیلنس میں اضافہ، اپنے اپنے اکاونٹس چیک کرلیں، بینک نے غلطی سے 75 ہزار اکاؤنٹس میں کروڑوں کی رقم جمع کروا دی
    [An increase in bank balance of people, bank mistakenly deposits millions]
  • بینک نے غلطی سے 75ہزار اکائونٹس میں کروڑوں کی رقم جمع کروا دی،راتوں رات بینک بیلنس میں ,اضافہ۔۔ اپنے اپنے اکاونٹ چیک کرلیں
  • بینک کی غلطی سے لوگوں کے بینک بیلنس میں راتوں رات اضافہ، ‘اپنے اپنے اکاونٹ چیک کرلیں’

The CrowdTangle analysis revealed that since 1 December 2021, the search terms received 1,787 interactions across seven posts on Facebook, 552 interactions across 15 posts, and 794 interactions across 21 posts, respectively.

Of the websites that carried the report, News1’s story gained significant traction with more than 12,000 views on the website, at the time of reporting. On Facebook, News1’s post received 1,200 reactions, 137 comments and 33 shares. It is also performing over six times better than other similar posts. 

Conclusion: The Santander Bank made an error by depositing a total amount of £130 million across 75,000 consumer bank accounts. Local news outlets and Facebook pages reported the news with misleading headlines and cover images, suggesting that Pakistanis may have benefited from the erroneous deposits when in fact the deposits were only made into UK accounts. 

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