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You may land in a frying PAN!

BEWARE! Your PAN card or driving licence are becoming a handy tool for unscrupulous elements to commit identity frauds in the city. The photocopies of PAN cards or driving licences with photographs of the original card-holder being replaced with another are only a tip of the ice berg of the number of ways being utilised to submit an application for seeking a wide variety of loans, opening a savings bank or Demat account by unscrupulous elements.

india Updated: Mar 22, 2006 00:05 IST

BEWARE! Your PAN card or driving licence are becoming a handy tool for unscrupulous elements to commit identity frauds in the city.

The photocopies of PAN cards or driving licences with photographs of the original card-holder being replaced with another are only a tip of the ice berg of the number of ways being utilised to submit an application for seeking a wide variety of loans, opening a savings bank or Demat account by unscrupulous elements.

Take the case of SK Singh, a junior engineer, a resident of C-312 Sector D Mansarovar LDA Colony. Singh was surprised when about a fortnight back, he received an acknowledgment letter from the main branch of the State Bank of India thanking him for opening an account (number 01190116051) with them.

Since he had not opened any such account, the junior engineer taking it to be a case of mistaken identity approached the bank to clear the misunderstanding.

To his utter disbelief, he discovered that not only somebody had opened the account by using his tampered PAN card and cellphone bill but had also deposited over Rs 3 lakh in it. Singh was aghast when instead of cooperating the bank authorities reprimanded him for reporting the matter so late to them. “I told them that since I am presently posted in Mahoba, I had not seen the acknowledgement letter, which though received by a member of my family was lying unopened,” he said.

“I then tried to recollect how the forger could have procured my PAN and cellphone bill. It struck to me that I had attached photocopies of these documents for opening a Demat account with Sumna, a sub-broker of Fair Intermediate Investment, a share trading firm, said the junior engineer.

Subsequent investigations both by the police and Singh himself zeroed in on one Rohit Singh employed with Sumna. “Rohit not only forged my documents but also that of one Ratua Watal, a teacher in Awadh GirlsDegree College, as introducer in opening the account in my name with the SBI,” said Singh. Simultaneously, he also opened a demat account under my name with Stock Holding Corporation of India at Shri Ram Towers and with Ventura Securities. He then took the shares of one of the customer of the firm (one DN Agarwal) and got them transferred in my name from the Stockholding Corporation and sold them through Ventura Securities for Rs 3.09 lakh and deposited the cheque with the SBI account, recounts Singh.

The city’s broking houses have their own stories to tell: “We had lodged an FIR against two persons some months back in the city who were caught with photocopies of fake driving licenses attached to the document for opening a Demat account with one of the share depository participants in the city. The original driving license belonged to one of our clients. The photocopy of the card had the photo tampered with to submit fake documents”, Nitin Saxena, Vice President Karvy Stock Broking Ltd, Lucknow told HT.

It is not just this grave issue of photocopies of PAN cards or
driving licenses being tampered, the problem is compounded by people who might present a fake PAN card and driving license which look so “real” on verification. The only solution to deal with such a problem is to implement the system of “biometrics” (using fingerprints as identity) to check all kinds of identity frauds, he said.

The Income Tax Department had now rigorously started physical verification of proof of residence of all applicants applying for new PAN cards in the city. The scam related to multiple Demat accounts being opened by a single person in Ahmedabad had now prompted the Income Tax Department to issue cards only after proper physical verification of applicant’s proof of residence”, Saxena added.

“Various types of frauds are committed by people using PAN cards of the assesses not only in UP but across the country. We would certainly investigate cases of “photocopies of PAN cards” which had been tampered with in any application be it opening of bank accounts or applying for a loan. The people who have been victims of identity frauds could come to the Income Tax Department and report such cases in writing to the senior officials for action”, a senior IT official told HT.

First Published: Mar 22, 2006 00:05 IST