Nepal | January 21, 2020

6 held for swindling Rs 2m from bank

Police suspect involvement of banks’ staffers in the scam

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, November 27

Police have arrested six persons for allegedly swindling two million rupees from Gopal Man Rajbahak’s account in Janata Bank and one million rupees from Muktinath Development Bank.

Those arrested have been identified as Subas Shrestha,19, Kumar Tamang,19, Manish Ghimire,18 and Aanjan Baral, 21, of Panchkhal Municipality in Kavre, Suman Poudel, 25, of Galkot Municipality in Baglung and Govinda Ghimire, 30, of Jyamire Municipality in Sindhupalchowk.

Ghimire and Shrestha, who led the gang, got a cheque book issued in the name of Rajbahak from Janata Bank’s branch office at Gwarko, Lalitpur on November 24 and withdraw money from his account.The Bank said it had issued the cheque book on the basis of a copy of citizenship certificate presented by one of the fraudsters, with the account number of Rajbahak.

The fraudsters then went to the Baneshwor branch of Janata Bank with the freshly issued  cheque book, copied the signature of Rajbahak and withdrew Rs 999,000 from the bank, without being suspected. Both of them again went to the New Road branch of the bank from where they withdrew a total of one million rupees.

According to police,  one of the fraudsters, in an attempt to trick Rajbahak, called on his mobile phone posing as a bank employee and told him  to switch off his mobile phone to avoid ‘some wrong messages’ from the bank. Rajbahak, who is not educated and can barely write his first name, believed the caller and switched off his mobile phone. Later that night when he switched on the mobile phone he received a message from the bank, which stated that Rs 19,99,000 had been debited from his account.

Rajbahak did not understand the SMS and asked his family members about it and when he came to know that his money was stolen, he made a frantic call to the police.

Deputy Superintendent of Police, Hobindra Bogati of Metropolitan Police Range, Teku said after getting the information from Rajbahak, police immediately called the representatives of Nepal Rastra Bank and Janata Bank.

Metropolitan Police Range suspected that the fraudsters might try again to withdraw money from Rajbahak’s account for the remaining sum of Rs 800,000 and laid a trap without informing the media. It  deployed its plain clothed police personnel at all branches of Janata Bank. The plan worked. Shrestha visited the bank at New Road to withdraw  money from Rajbahak’s account. He was immediately arrested there, which also led to the arrest of five other gang members.

Police then  raided the rented room of the group leaders at Kalimati and recovered photocopoies of citizenship certificates of some 2,000 persons, along with 329 blank chequebooks of various banks and 82  ATM cards of NIC Bank. Police seized hundreds of bank documents stacked in two sacks. Blank cheques included those of Jyoti Development Bank, Everest Bank, Machachhapuchre Bank, NIC Asia Bank and Muktinath Development Bank. Fraudsters had collected information details of
Rajbahak’s  account including  specimen of his signature, and his cheque book. Police suspected that bank employees could have colluded with the fraudsters. “We are closely watching the employee of the concerned bank,” said DSP Bogati.

Parshuram Kunwar Chhetri, CEO of Janata Bank said, “We had followed all due process to issue the chequebook.  We don’t know how  they got  information about Rajbahak’s account. We are cooperating with the police,” he added.

NRB Spokesperson Laxmi Prapanna Niraula said his office had been investigating how the gang obtained genuine documents from the bank.

Police were yet to identify the person whose money was swindled from Muktinath Development Bank account. DSP Bogati said, “The Bank officials have told us that one million rupees was transferred to one of the gang member’s account.”

A version of this article appears in print on November 28, 2019 of The Himalayan Times.

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