Odisha: Frauds used cloned cheques to siphon off Rs 4.5 cr from Mayurbhanj district mineral foundation account

Since the frauds had got their mobile phone number linked with the bank account of DMF to receive OTPs and other information, it was easy for them to evade the notice of the DMF managers.
Image used for representational purposes
Image used for representational purposes

BHUBANESWAR: A bunch of inter-state frauds reportedly from neighbouring states targetted the Mayurbhanj District Mineral Foundation (DMF) fund by using cloned cheques to swindle around Rs 4.5 crore from the bank account.

The DMF account of zilla parishad is maintained with the Bank of India. Preliminary probe indicated the gang of frauds sent a fabricated letterhead of Mayurbhanj Collector with his fake signature via courier to the bank requesting to link a mobile phone number with the account of DMF. The unsuspecting bank officials linked the mobile phone number of the miscreants with the DMF account of zilla parishad, Mayurbhanj, following which Rs 4.5 crore was withdrawn on April 10 and transferred to bank accounts in Kolkata and Raipur, said sources.

EOW suspects the scamsters possibly came to know of the cheque numbers through statements of the bank account of DMF and deposited the cloned cheques accordingly. A few days later, they again attempted to withdraw Rs 5.5 crore, but this time the bank manager found it suspicious and informed police of the matter.

“When the money was not released after the second cheque was deposited, one of the gang members telephoned the manager of the bank impersonating the collector and inquired about the matter,” said police sources. The bank officials immediately lodged a complaint with Mayurbhanj police but as the matter was sensitive, its investigation was handed over to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Crime Branch.

A team of EOW visited Baripada on April 21 and launched a probe into the matter. “Preliminary investigation suggests the gang members are based out of neighbouring Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand and West Bengal,” said EOW sources.

Since the frauds had got their mobile phone number linked with the bank account of DMF to receive OTPs and other information, it was easy for them to evade the notice of the DMF managers.

However, how the gang members accessed the bank statement and details of cheque is under scrutiny and role of insiders is not ruled out since the fund concerns crores of rupees.

This is not the first time DMF funds have been swindled by depositing cloned cheques. In November last year, a fraudster allegedly swindled around ‘22 lakh from the DMF account of the District Rural Development Agency (DRDA), Sambalpur by depositing cloned cheques.

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