Staff Reporter

HYDERABAD: Generally, it is the signature and not the amount on the cheque the bank staff examine before initiating the process of its encashment.

Twenty-seven-year-old Mohd. Saleem knew this point well and used it to dupe six vehicle showrooms of Rs. 36 lakh in past 10 months in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. He would erase the numbers and letters of the amount on the cheque leaf using a blade, write the sum he wanted, present it in the bank and disappear leaving no trace for the investigators, police said.

Saleem of Bangalore, who shifted to Hyderabad five years ago and bought a house with the money fraudulently acquired, was arrested by the Hyderabad Police Commissioner's Task Force officials on Thursday. The accused along with his sister-in-law would approach the car showrooms pretending to buy a vehicle and pay Rs. 5,000 in advance to book a vehicle.

He would return few days later and seek return of his money maintaining he could not secure the total money required. “These days all showrooms follow the method of issuing cheques to keep track of all transactions. This turned out to be advantageous for Saleem,” Task Force DCP V.B. Kamalasan Reddy told a press conference.

The accused would forge the cheque and present it in the bank for encashment. Since it is common for the vehicle showrooms to issue cheques with huge sums, the bank employees don't suspect foul play. They verify if the signature is correct and not the amount.

Amidst the crores of rupees of transactions of the vehicle showrooms, realising this fraud would take few days for the accounting staff.

By then, the accused would have disappeared.

Saleem studied up to Class X at Tumkur in Karnataka. He made an attempt to dupe a cooperative bank in Mangalore first time in 2005 by obtaining a demand draft for Rs. 1,000 and presented it in ICICI bank after changing the amount to four lakh rupees. He was arrested by Bangalore police before the DD was cleared, Mr. Reddy said.

Later, he shifted to Hyderabad and started his cheating spree.