Please sit down, you just lost Rs 6 L of your life savings

When the manager of a bank you have entrusted with your life’s savings invites you to the bank, offers you a seat and asks about the condition of your heart — its definitely not good news. A retired vice principal of St Xavier’s School, Fort was initially amused when her bank branch manager enquired about her heart condition. But the amusement was short-lived as the manager informed her Rs 6 lakh was drawn from her savings account fraudulently.

Renee Carvalho (61) has since filed a complaint with Azad Maidan police station claiming that unknown person/s have withdrawn money from her account presenting a fake cheque. “In the last week of February, I received a letter asking me to visit the branch. On April 3 when I visited the bank, the bank manager first enquired about my health. He asked me if I have any heart ailments. I was a bit amused to hear the manager asking me such questions. Finally, he told me about the Rs 6 lakh withdrawal,” said Carvalho.

“This was my life savings. I was shocked and dismayed that someone had taken away my post-retirement dues. For a retired person, such a large amount makes a huge difference,” said Carvalho who retired two years back. As per the complaint, it is suspected that the withdrawal was made in Hyderabad on October 29 last year. Central Bank of India, Marine Lines branch officials only detected the fraud on January 19 when a second attempt to withdraw Rs 4. 68 lakh from the victim’s account was made. When the bank officials received the second cheque, they found that the signature wasn’t matching. Suspecting foul play, they immediately informed the account holder.

After exchanging a series of letters with branch officials wherein she accused the bank officials of negligence, Carvalho filed the police complaint through her lawyer on April 20, after bank investigations were going nowhere. Advocate Ashok Shahani, Carvalho’s lawyer, said, “On one hand the government asks everyone to deposit their money in saving accounts. But if banks are unable to take care of your savings, how will the citizens feel secure depositing their savings in banks?”

According to the complaint, on December 27, 2011, Carvalho had visited her Marine Lines branch, with whom she holds the account for the last 40 years, to withdraw some money towards her medical expenses. At that time the branch manger approached her and enquired of her if she had made any big withdrawals recently. She said no and left the branch, as she wasn’t keeping too well. Two months later, she received a post card from the bank asking her to come to bank urgently.

“We have registered case against unknown people under several charges of cheating and forgery. We are taking down the statement of bank officials and are investigating the matter,” said a police officer from Azad Maidan police station.

The other side
Central Bank of India chief manager of the Marine lines branch Bishwa Sarangi said, “We checked the signature during the first transaction. It was matching, so why would we stop the transaction if there weren’t any discrepancies. However, during the second transaction we saw that the sign was not matching. I sent my bank officer to her house four times, but she was not present. We are clear from our side, if someone comes and makes any such allegations we cannot do anything. However we will investigate at the very high level.” 

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