Failure to identify fraudster who duped Chandigarh man of 50,000 costs SBI dear

Forum directs bank to pay 75% of the amount the resident was conned, along with interest
In June 2016, the victim had received a call from a man posing as an SBI official, who told him his card had been blocked.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
In June 2016, the victim had received a call from a man posing as an SBI official, who told him his card had been blocked.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)
Published on Dec 28, 2019 12:40 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Panchkula | By, Panchkula

The district consumer disputes redressal forum has penalised the State Bank of India (SBI) for not making adequate efforts to find the fraudster who duped a Chandigarh man of 49,999.

The forum has directed the chairperson of SBI, Mumbai, general manger of SBI, Sector 17, Chandigarh, and manager of SBI branch located at Shakti Bhawan in Sector 6, Panchkula, to pay 37,499 (75% of the total withdrawal amount) to the complainant, along with an interest at 9% per annum.

The opposite parties were also directed to pay 15,000 on account of mental agony and harassment, besides 5,500 as cost of litigation. The matter dates back to June 2016 when the complainant, Harish Gulati of Sector 51, Chandigarh, received a call from a person posing as an SBI official.

The man had told Gulati that his ATM-cum-debit card had been blocked, and that he would require his ATM card number. The imposter then told Gulati that a small fee of 10 would be levied as service charge to unblock the card. The complainant had then received a message on his registered mobile number conveying a one time password (OTP) number for authenticating and withdrawing a sum of 10 from his savings account.

The OTP was shared with the caller and subsequently, he received another message on his mobile number with an OTP for payment of 49,999, which was ignored by him and never shared. However, the complainant was surprised to receive a message that 49,999 had been debited from his savings account.

Gulati had informed the bank branch regarding the unauthorised withdrawal and submitted a written complaint with the manager. The bank in their reply had, however, refused to take responsibility for the unauthorised withdrawal. On investigation it was found that the 49,999 were transferred to (MOS Utility Private Ltd). Gulati also lodged a complaint with the Sector 5 police station, Panchkula, however, only a daily diary report (DDR) was lodged.

The opposite parties, raising preliminary objections on the complaint, said that the ATM card, its details and PIN code were in the safe custody of the complainant and he himself had admitted to sharing the OTP with the caller. The opposite parties further submitted that they advise customers to be beware of such calls as the bank never makes any such calls to customers to get vital details.

“After the complaint was raised, it was forwarded to the concerned department that confirmed that the OTP generated for the transaction of 49,999 was used, which resulted in the successful transaction,” the counsel representing the bank submitted.

Considering the facts, the forum observed that the culprit behind the aforementioned MOS Utility Private Limited succeeded in opening the account with on the basis of certain fake and bogus documents but neither the PayU fraud prevention team nor the relevant team of the SBI made efforts to unearth the fraudster’s identity. The opposite parties have even failed to clarify as to whom does the alleged mobile number, from which the alleged call was made to the complainant, belong, the forum said.

“In our view, it would be just, fair and reasonable that the opposite parties are directed to settle the claim of the complainant on non-standard basis. We deem it fair and reasonable to direct both the parties, that is the complainant as well as the opposite parties, to bear the responsibility in the matter in the ratio of 1/4th and 3/4th respectively,” the forum ruled.

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