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AIIMS loses over ₹12 cr. in bank fraud

A view of AIIMS building in New Delhi. File

A view of AIIMS building in New Delhi. File   | Photo Credit: Sushil Kumar Verma

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SBI issues alert to all its branches

India’s premier medical institute All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) fell prey to a banking fraud as over ₹12 crore has been stolen from its two bank accounts with the SBI by allegedly using “cloned cheques” over the past one month. The money has been siphoned off from the bank accounts the AIIMS has with the SBI from its non-home branches in other cities, sources said.

Even after the fraud came to light, attempts were made to illegally withdraw over ₹29 crore allegedly using cloned cheques from SBI’s non-home branches located in Dehradun and Mumbai in the last one week.

However, the attempts were foiled.

The hospital administration has already approached the Economic Offences Wing of Delhi Police seeking an investigation into the scam.

According to an official, fraud cheque leaves presented at SBI’s branches passed UV ray tests, and in most of the cases, the original cheque leaves with same series were still in the possession of the institute, the AIIMS said in a report to the Health Ministry.

It said the SBI has failed to follow verification protocol while clearing cheques at non-home branches and asked the bank to deposit the stolen amount.

The sources said the fraudsters attempted to withdraw over R₹20 crore from a non-home branch of SBI in Dehradun while ₹ 9 crore was attempted to be stolen from a branch of the bank in Mumbai.

“Prima facie there is no evidence suggesting direct role or complicity of AIIMS officials as the signatures of authorised signatories also seem to be forged.

“The payments released or stopped can straight away be attributed to failure of control mechanism in SBI bank and its branches. Hence, the loss doesn’t pertain to AIIMS,” the AIIMS said in its report.

“Branches not to pay high value cheques issued by AIIMS, New Delhi, A/c No. 10874584010 maintained with AIIMS New Delhi Branch (01536).

“Huge number of cloned cheques paid across the country -- AGM, Fraud Monitoring Cell,” read a message circulating in the internal whatsapp group of the SBI’s staff.

Further, the bank has sent an alert message which is popping up as soon as employees working in the transaction department open their systems.

As per instructions of the bank, if a cheque worth over Rs 2 Lakh is presented at any non-home branch, then it has to contact the customer to get a confirmation before clearing the cheque or even transferring money, said an SBI official.

Additionally, the non-home branches are required to contact the home branch to confirm the details of the account holder in case of high-value cheques.

Banks also send an SMS alert to account holder when cheques are received in clearing.

A bank official said that cheques amounting to Rs 25,000 and more are examined under ultraviolet lamp.

Also, as per the instructions of the Reserve Bank of India, if a bank fraud of beyond Rs 3 crore is reported then the bank registers a complaint with the CBI.

It is not immediately known whether the SBI has approached the CBI in the current case. PTI PLB MPB RT 11292030

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Printable version | Dec 14, 2019 6:55:18 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/aiims-loses-over-12-cr-in-bank-fraud/article30121854.ece

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