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How A Nationwide Fraud Was Uncovered By An Under-Training IPS

A Cheque cloning case was registered in UP’s Pratapgarh but its tentacles was spread till Delhi The fraudster took help of some bank employees to get customers’ details Successful investigation of this case led IPS officer Amrit Jain to be awarded with DGP’s medal
Indian Masterminds Stories

Jethwara police station in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh district during a regular public hearing few months back, received a complaint from Derwaa bank branch of Bank of Baroda regarding cheque cloning fraud. The SSP Pratapgarh Mr. Satpal Singh Antil handed over the investigation to the young IPS officer Mr. Amrit Jain who is currently ASP (Under Trainee) in the district. Under the guidance of SSP, Mr. Amrit carried out thorough investigations and uncovered a scam which had its tentacles even in Delhi, Rajasthan, Amritsar, Guwahati, and Chattisgarh.

Following Mr Amrit’s investigations, Bank of Baroda issued a nationwide circular modifying the process in confirming the high value cheque payment. Also, DGP’s and ADG’s commendation were announced for ASP Amrit Jain (IPS, 2021) and his team.

In an exclusive conversation with Indian Masterminds, he said that his team in an extensive data analytics, discovered within just few hours that several other such cheque frauds had taken places in Pratapgarh Kotwali, Antoo, Derwa police stations as well. Police upon technical analysis of the data, zeroed down on the suspects and arrested around 7-8 person including a bank employee.

USING FAKE IDS

After being assigned the case, the most important thing was to assemble the right team. Mr. Jain’s team included SSI Jethwara police station Mr. Vineet Kumar Upadhyay and two constables from the surveillance cell. He says that without his team it would have been difficult to crack the case.

Mr. Amrit is currently under trainee as ASP in Pratapgarh

The accused were using the forged Aadhar identities created by the numbers of Aadhar whose SIM numbers were deactivated due to various reasons like inability to pay the data bill. “They got the phone numbers activated using a new postpaid connection and got the OTPs. With that they changed the address, name and photo in the UIDAI database and created a new identity keeping Aadhar number and biometrics same”, Said Mr. Amrit.

The new Aadhar card was then used to create PAN cards and new fake firms with real GST number on which they used to file returns.Then, these fraudsters went to several banks and created new Bank accounts especially an account in Bank of Baroda which served as the base of their attacks.

ENLISTING A BANK EMPLOYEE

Mr. Amrit and his team was astonished to find that some bank employees too were involved. They arrested a bank manager who had hacked the email server. The fraudsters got the list of bank accounts in BoB whose phone numbers are not linked to the bank accounts and had handsome amount with help of the officials.

Mr. Amrit with his team

They created forged chequebook in the name of these accounts and obtained the signature & details of the original account holder. With all these details, they could now present the cheque from the original customer.

FRAUD OF Rs 60 LAKHS

The fraudsters did two kinds of attack. First was clearing the cheque following the general procedure. Since, the cheque below two lakhs need not be verified by the customer, so they forged sign of the customer and dropped the cheque in the box.

In another high value mail fraud, these fraudsters presented two cloned cheques with the victim’s names Jaleel Ahmed and Farizul Nisha amounting to total 60 lacs in the presenting branch of Bank of Baroda in Delhi. Since the amount was so high so the presenting branch wrote a confirmation mail to the home branch.Within one minute the mail was received, processed and cleared by the home branch. Following receipt of the reply the presenting branch went ahead with the payment and the amount was debited.

LAPSE FROM THE BANK

Mr. Amrit mentioned that there were so many lapses from the Bank side which led to this scam. For starters, how could personal & financial data have been leaked. “Bank has its own guidelines for the clearing of physical cheque too which was not followed. Besides that, the one-minute confirmation mail limit makes it so suspicious. The Bank should have questioned themselves that how is it possible to first access the mail, call the customer and type a reply in just one minute”, the officer pointed out.

He also said that major technical lapses combined with insiders’ involvement at various stages led to providing conducive conditions for the fraudsters to commit such a big scam. Although, this one was discovered but that is not the end of the story. “While the banks need to review their processes& guidelines, the customers too need to be aware”, Mr Amrit summed up.

Due to a stark resemblance of methodology, the Pratapgarh case could well be called a Scam 2023. Like Stock Market scams of 1992 and Stamp Paper scam of 2003, here too financial fraud was committed by taking advantage of systemic lacunae with help of some insiders.

Lapses from the bank were duly recognised by nationalized banks in time and cheque clearing processes were immediately revamped and reformed. This coupled with successive arrests by Mr Amrit’s team eradicated this scam from the Indian financial landscape.


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