SBI rejects former CBDT chairman’s claim for his money swindled by scammers

Though the fraudulent transaction was partly frozen, bank refuses to return money citing negligence of customer

September 16, 2022 12:21 am | Updated 12:21 am IST - CHENNAI

Days after a former Chairman of the Central Board of Direct Taxes (CBDT) complained of being scammed of ₹10 lakh, the State Bank of India (SBI) has refused to return a part of the siphoned off fund, which it had “frozen”.

The SBI has informed the senior citizen that its Internal Ombudsman had concurred with the decision “for full rejection of the disputed claim amount since there was negligence of the customer.”

KYC scam

T.S. Srinivasan, 85, had claimed to have walked into a trap laid by fraudsters impersonating BSNL officials, warning of deactivating his SIM card and made him share a One Time Password (OTP) generated in his mobile number registered with the bank. After he shared the OTP, ₹10 lakh was siphoned off from his savings account in multiple transactions.

Mr. Srinivasan had lodged a complaint with the Kilpauk police. He said he was not sure whether he had shared any OTP but the caller confirmed to him that the KYC records were updated.

According to M.R. Sivaraman, former Union Revenue Secretary and a friend of Mr. Srinivasan, he took up the fraudulent transaction with the SBI’s Mylapore Branch officials within 24-48 hours. The SBI in Kolkata froze ₹5 lakh, which was transferred to the account of a resident there after getting a confirmation from him that he had nothing to do with the fund transfer. About ₹3 lakh was frozen in a Canara Bank account in Surat.

“But the SBI is refusing to return the money to Mr. Srinivasan’s account saying he had authorised the transfer. His claim for the money has been rejected and the bank has advised him to appeal to the Banking Ombudsman,” he said.

Mr. Sivaraman referred to a similar case in Virudhunagar, where recently a senior citizen was relieved of ₹9.44 lakh in three different transactions by fraudsters, who claimed to be updating KYC records. He immediately called the Cyber Crime Wing helpline ‘1930’ and lodged a complaint. The police took immediate steps to stop payments and made arrangements for returning ₹9.33 lakh to the complainant’s account.

Transfer authorised

When contacted by The Hindu, a senior SBI official said the bank’s internal surveillance and fraud investigation inquiries had revealed that the fund transfers were “authorised” by the customer.

Parrying questions on whether authorisation meant sharing of OTP, the official said the money was transferred as per the “net-banking protocol”.

“After coming to know of the alleged fraud, we informed the Indian Bank authorities in Tiruvannamalai to hold some money transferred to their customer’s account. But the money was allowed to be drawn,” an official who preferred not to be quoted said. The SBI, he said, has decided not to return the money frozen in two different accounts in Kolkata and Surat since the customer was “negligent”.

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