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The 5 Most Recent Banking Frauds In India That Shocked The Country

Over the last couple of years there has been at least seven cases of bank fraud that have rocked India as well as put millions of customers and their hard earned money at risk. In all of the cases, senior bank officials were found to have been involved in the scandals either through forgery or intentional irresponsible behaviour amounting to criminal activities

By Debdutta Ghosh

The PNC Bank Scandal (September 2019) 

The latest banking scandal that rocked India was the Rs 4,355 crore bank fraud that happened at the Punjab Maharashtra Co-operative (PMC) Bank. The bank has a wide network of 137 branches across six states in India and established in 1984 as a single branch bank. The total deposit with the bank was about Rs 11,617.34 crore when the scandal hit it.

The blame fraud at the bank was accorded to the higher management of the PMC bank. It was alleged that the top officials of the bank had colluded with the Housing Development and Infrastructure Ltd (HDIL) and its group entities to organize the fraud. The senior officials of the PMC bank reportedly transferred 70% of the total credit facilities of the bank to HDIL and its associated companies. It was alleged that officials of the bank had colluded with the promoters of HDIL and allowed them to operate password protected ‘masked accounts’. Investigations found that the culprits had created 21,049 bank accounts under bogus names and addresses to conceal 44 loan accounts. 

The software of the bank was also allegedly tampered to conceal these loan accounts. The scandal came to light after a group of women employees of the credit department of the PMC bank informed the Reserve Bank of India, the banking regulator of India, about the presence of the ghost accounts. Following the revelation of the fraud, the bank was placed under administration and a cap on withdrawal by its customers was placed. The Enforcement Directorate (ED) investigating the fraud has attached assets worth about Rs 3,500 crore of the HDIL group and the HDIL chief Rakesh Wadhawan and his son Sarang Wadhawan, who both of whom have been arrested, to try and recover a part of the loan amount. ED has alleged that some of the senior-most bank officials had received kickbacks from HDIL.  

Lakshmi Vilas Bank Scam (LVB) (September 2019) 

The Economic Offence Wings (EOW) of India alleged that senior officials of the Lakshmi Vilas Bank and the former promoters of Religare were had colluded to ditch the bank a total of Rs. 723 crore from a fixed deposit in the bank of Religare Finvest Ltd’s (RFL).

An FIR was filed against the key directors of the bank for cheating, breach of trust and criminal conspiracy.

The scandal came to light after a complaint filed by Religare Finvest Ltd (RFL), alleging that it was cheated as the loan that was given to the former promoters of Religare was done in a personal capacity by Lakshmi Vilas Bank based on the company’s deposits with the bank. According to the complaint filed by Religare Finvest, the lending arm of Religare Enterprises, the bank had siphoned off the money of the company invested in the bank as a fixed deposit and was diverted through a complex network of financial transactions. 

IDBI Bank Ltd Scandal (March 2018) 

In March of 2018, one of the leading banks of India – IDBI Bank Ltd said, that  five of its branches in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana had issued fraudulent loans of over Rs 773 crore. The company filed a case over the forgery alleging that a part of the loans, which were issued during fiscal years 2009-2013, for alleged fish farming businesses, were granted against fake lease documents of non-existent fish ponds. The bank also said that the crim inals had also inflated the value of collateral. 

The company clearly said that this was an internal job and that two of its senior officials of the branches, who were responsible for processing and disbursing the loans, were involved in the crime. While the bank dismissed one of the officials, the other had already retired when the scandal broke. 

The case was later transferred to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) – the premier investigating agency of India. 

Infrastructure Leasing & Financial Services Limited (IL&FS) Scam (September 2018) 

The IL&FS is a systemically important Core Investment Company and is engaged in the business of giving loans and advances to its group companies which are engaged in the advancing loans to companies in a large number of sectors such as energy, transportation, financial services, etc. just to put things into perspective – the IL&FS group has at least 24 direct subsidiaries, 135 indirect subsidiaries, six joint ventures and four associate companies. At towards the end of 2018, the company had accumulated a debt of about Rs 91,000 crore and of this amount, about Rs 60,000 crore of debt were those that were still at the project level in sectors of including road, power and water projects. Between July 2018 and September 2018, a number of subsidiaries of the company failed to pay back loans and inter-corporate deposits to banks and lenders.

After intervention by the government of India and investigations by the Serious Fraud Investigating Office (SFIO), it was revealed that the group subsidiaries of the group had given away numerous and huge loans to completely undeserving companies. For example, one of its subsidiaries had given a loan of Rs 385 crore even though it only had a net worth of Rs 85 crore while another doled out a loan of Rs 223 crore to a company with a net worth of just Rs 9 crore. Very little no collateral were examined against the loans. 

While the investigators charged senior officials and founders of IL&FS with allegations of forgery and criminal conduct, the Indian government imposed a 5 year ban on the auditors Deloitte Haskins & Sells and BSR & Co for their alleged role in helping hide bad loans at the bankrupt IL&FS. 

Punjab National Bank (PNB) Fraud (February 2018) 

This was arguably the largest bank scam of India in which a very renowned Indian jeweller Nirav Modi and his uncle Mehul Chowksi used fraudulent means to dupe the PNB of Rs 10,000 crore. The modus operandi involved the duo conniving with high ranking bank officials to forge fraudulent letter of undertaking (LoUs) issued by the bank and withdrew money to foreign bank accounts from the PNB. The businessmen never repaid a single penny to the bank but left India. None of the culprits have been nabbed yet despite the Indian investigators involving the Interpol. 

A onetime celebrated jeweler, Nirav Modi had managed to get 1,213 false guarantees during a period of 74 months, with the first one being obtained from PNB’s Brady House branch in Mumbai on March 10, 2011. Corrupt employees of the bank had helped Nirav Modi and his associate companies, to obtain the LoUs – sometimes up to five in a single day. Modi then made use of them to obtain loans from foreign branches of Indian banks.

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Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus: 
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes ,organizations or individual.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources  then it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on social media messages that the lockdown will last for more than 3 months. Check any related information only on Government Web Portals and social media platforms of various Government Agencies.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred 

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic information write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com

Read the COVID-19 Conspiracy Theories

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