Rs1.33 Crore Withdrawn from NRI's Account through Fake Cheques and Changing His Registered Mobile Number
In a shocking incident, Dr Ajay Sood, a non-resident Indian (NRI) settled in the US, found Rs1.33 crore withdrawn from his account in Bank of India, that too when the original cheques are with him even today. He also found that his registered mobile number was changed and an Aadhaar number, which he does not have, was added in his account details in the bank.
He has been running from post to pillar, including calling and speaking with several officials at Bank of India and even Reserve Bank of India (RBI). But all in vain as both these organisation are not even responding to his repeated emails, calls and messages. The worst is that nobody the RBI's consumer education and protection department, even bothers to answer the call.
Sharing his experience with the RBI, Dr Sood says, “I called the RBI Governor's office, and spoke with one lady Naya, who asked to to call CEPD (Consumer Education and Protection Department) on 22630483. I tried that number five times every half hour and then called Naya back. She gave me another direct number 22631743 of CEPD, but no there was response. Called Naya again and she gave me the deputy governor's office number 22611097. On this number, I spoke with Nilima but she too redirected me to CEPD. In the meanwhile I forwarded my email complaint to CGM CEPD at [email protected]
I will keep trying."
In this case, Dr Sood found his registered mobile number was changed, and there was an Aadhaar linked with his bank account with his father's wrong name. However, he never had any Aadhaar.
He could not file complaint with the Banking Ombudsman, as the online form requires him to provide local contact number, debit card number and address, which he does not have and the portal does not allow him to use his US details. He sent an email to the Ombudsman, which was accepted as his complaint and forwarded to the nodal officer at Bank of India. But even after two months, he has not heard from anyone.
Dr Sood had a joint account with his mother and brother in Bank of India. In December 2017, as per their mutual agreement, the account was transferred in Dr Sood's sole name as non-resident ordinary (NRO) account. This account had all the lifetime savings of his mother as she wanted him to care for her in her old age. Dr Sood continues to have in his possession the chequebook issued at the time when the NRO account was opened.
However, while checking his statements on 20 July 2018, he found there were two withdrawals of Rs98 lakh and Rs35 lakh using cheques from his NRO account. To his utter shock, he found, two cheque numbers from the chequebook in his possession in the US, were used to withdraw Rs1.33 crore. Dr Sood says he neither shared the cheque numbers nor any cheque with anyone. Yet, Rs1.33 crore were withdrawn from his bank account in Chandigarh.
After speaking with an official dealing with NRI accounts, he filed a complaint with the bank manager in Chandigarh.
By engaging a local lawyer, Dr Sood, on 10 August 2018 also filed a first information report (FIR) with the economic offenses wing (EOW) of Chandigarh police.
In the meantime, he sent email complaints to Bank of India's chairman and managing director Dina Bandhu Mohapatra, the Bank's nodal officer and assistant general manager at Chandigarh. But he received no response.
Then on 2 August 2018, he filed email complaints with the Banking Ombudsman at Chandigarh, for which, on 6th August, he received acknowledgement that his complaint was successfully registered. The Ombudsman told him that his complaint is sent to Bank of India's nodal officer in Chandigarh for further action.
Dr Sood has been sending emails to Bank of India's nodal officer, who is saying the matter is under investigation with the Bank and police and would take more time. He also requested the Bank for provisional credit in his account, but there is no response either. He has been continuously asking the Bank, without any success, to provide him copies of the cheques used to withdraw Rs98 lakh and Rs35 lakh from his account.
He contacted the investigating officer in EOW, who informed him about the change in his mobile number and submission of Aadhaar on 11 May 2018. Dr Sood says, "The Aadhaar card apparently has the same picture as my bank records. It states name of my father as Surender whereas my father's actual name is Dharam Inder. I have no Aadhaar card linked to my bank account since NRO accounts do not have such a requirement. I do not know if they used a PAN card, and whether that corresponds to the one in my bank records. There was a fraudulent communication with the bank in my name via a non-registered email before a bank official approved transfer my funds. Someone was aware of my account balance since almost the entire amount was transferred."
He also found that Rs98 lakh from his account were transferred to one Sachin Yadav from Gurgaon and Rs35 lakh to one Mukesh Thakur from Ujjain. However, Dr Sood claims that these two individuals are not being questioned by the police or the Bank. In fact, he says, Bank official are insisting with the police that someone known to him would have done the transactions while strongly denying any involvement of Bank employee/s.
Dr Sood has even filed complaint with the NRI Cell in Chandigarh, to Sushma Swaraj, minister for external affairs. He also filed an online complaint to the public grievances portal. But there is no response from anyone.