Cloned cheques used to siphon off over Rs 10 million from Lucknow University’s bank account
The Lucknow University (LU) fell prey to a fraud in which Rs. 1.09 crore (over Rs. 10 million) was siphoned off from its bank account in one year using cloned cheques, said vice-chancellor Prof SP Singh at a press conference in Lucknow on Friday.Updated: Oct 05, 2019, 06:16 IST
The Lucknow University (LU) fell prey to a fraud in which Rs. 1.09 crore (over Rs. 10 million) was siphoned off from its bank account in one year using cloned cheques, said vice-chancellor Prof SP Singh at a press conference in Lucknow on Friday. He said an FIR had been lodged and the police were investigating the matter.
“As many as 11 cheques were cloned through which Rs. 1,09,82,935 was withdrawn. The university had issued cheques of much lower amounts. The fraudster cloned the cheques (using LU’s cheque numbers) and produced them at (UCO) bank, siphoning off the money. We have reported the matter to the senior superintendent of police (SSP) of Lucknow, Kalanidhi Naithani,” said the V-C.
He said that money was taken out in this manner from April 11, 2018 to May 1, 2019.
Dhirendra Kumar Kushwaha, inspector, Hassanganj police station, said, “Teams were sent to UCO bank, Punjab National Bank, Union Bank of India and Canara Bank to probe into the matter.”
Shedding light on how the fraudsters managed to stay under the radar, the V-C said, “They drew up to Rs. 9.9 lakh in each cheque, thus ensuring that the bank did not take confirmation from the university. For any withdrawal of over Rs. 10 lakh (1 million), the bank informs the university’s finance department.”
To questions on why the varsity took so long to get to know about the fraud when money was being siphoned off regularly, finance officer Sanjay Srivastava said, “We pay more than Rs.100 crore (1 billion) in salaries. It was difficult to catch the fraud as the clones cheques were of amounts lower than Rs.10 lakh.”
Earlier this year, the LU had faced widespread criticism for a fake mark-sheet racket in which its employees were reportedly found complicit. “Insider involvement cannot be ruled out in this cloned cheques episode too,” said a professor, requesting anonymity.
A Lucknow university official, who also did not wish to be identified, said, “This latest incident has again exposed the university administration’s and its finance department’s lacklustre attitude and indiscipline. They were caught napping for as long as a year, while the fraudsters succeeded in withdrawing so much money from the cash-strapped varsity exchequer.”
Meanwhile, LU officials said that a slew of precautionary measures had been brought in now.
“We closed most of our accounts at the UCO bank and got them shifted to the State Bank of India. Both these banks have branches on the university campus. Also, from here on, most of the payments will be made through RTGS (real-time gross settlement) transactions,” the V-C said.