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PNB customer who fell prey to phishing gets compensation

Special court directs bank to pay Rs 45 lakh to aggrieved party; says Pune police still ‘not sensitised’ to cyber crime.

Special court directs bank to pay Rs 45 lakh to aggrieved party; says Pune police still ‘not sensitised’ to cyber crime.

A special court of the Information Technology (IT) department of Maharashtra has directed the Punjab National Bank (PNB),Pune,to pay Rs 45 lakh to a customer who lost his money in a phishing attack,a cyber crime. The order,while commenting on the investigation into the case by the Pune police,also mentions that Pune police are “not sensitised to cyber crime… the majority of credit card and net banking fraud cases in Maharashtra is from Pune city.”

The order was passed by Rajesh Agarwal,secretary (Information Technology) Government of Maharashtra,Mantralaya,Mumbai on February 25,2013.

As per the case,on August 23,2011,Rs 80,10,000 was allegedly transferred fraudulently from the account of Poona Auto Ancillaries Private Limited with PNB,Pune. Managing director of the company,Manmohansingh Matharu found his account allegedly hacked. He found that as many as 40 transactions of Rs 2 lakh each,besides another Rs 10,000,were made from his account to accounts of unknown persons without his consent.

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Matharu informed the PNB,Pune,and filed a complaint with the Pune police. As per the provisions under the IT Act,2000,he also filed a complaint with the IT department of the state government at the Mantralaya and sought compensation.

His complaint to the office of Adjudicating Officer,IT department of state government was routed through his lawyers Hemant Chavan,Gaurav Jachak and Divya Chavan-Jachak. “Adjudicating Officer Rajesh Agarwal,secretary of the said office,was the judge of the special court of IT department in the case,” said advocate Gaurav Jachak.

The cyber cell of Pune police initiated a probe and money to the tune of Rs 37.6 lakh transferred to different accounts was frozen. Meanwhile,as per an interim order of the special court,the PNB reversed this money to the complainant.

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The order of adjudicating officer appreciates this pro-consumer step by PNB,but also mentions that the bank did not take sufficient precautions as per the Reserve Bank of India’s Know Your Customer (KYC) norms and “failed to prevent the offence under Section 43 of IT Act… and is thus guilty of offences…”

The order states,“Criminals used accounts of PNB opened on fake papers to defraud the complainant. This indicates the bank has been very lax with KYC norms.” The order further directs PNB to pay Rs 45 lakh to the complainant by the way of compensation to partially cover his loss and costs.

The order then comments on the investigation by Pune police. “After a lot of prodding by me,the police teams went to Gujarat,Kathua etc and recorded statements… they had many leads (IP addresses,ATM and CCTV footage etc) which could have been further pursued,but has not been done. The crime is a well-planned conspiracy by many persons… all of them are roaming free… such a big cyber crime was not even reviewed by the Pune Police Commissioner or even the DCP,which indicates that Pune police are still not sensitised to cyber crimes.”

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The order further directed the Pune police commissioner to put a DCP-rank officer in charge of the investigations and director general of police,Maharashtra to organise special training classes for all the personnel posted in cyber crime cells across state and ensure sufficient manpower is available to investigate cyber crimes.

Meanwhile,the order also says the complainant has to share part of the blame as he responded to a phishing email,and did not subscribe to SMS alerts available with the bank. The order also said that PNB has stricter and effective security services for corporate accounts,but these services were not availed of by complainant. Officials of cyber cell of Pune police did not comment on the matter.

First published on: 02-03-2013 at 03:59:05 am
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