This could well be one of the biggest loan frauds in the state. More than 400 residents of Asalfa village in Ghatkopar had an unpleasant surprise three days ago, when they received letters from ‘Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank’, asking them to repay loans which none of them claim to have ever taken.
On June 24, 2012, Mahak Pathan, a resident of Siddhivinayak Rahivasi Sangh, Ghatkopar (W) wrote a complaint to the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Mumbai police Crime Branch demanding an enquiry into the matter. According to Mahak, she received a letter a day earlier from the Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank, better known as ‘Mumbai Bank’ informing her that she had taken a loan worth of Rs 30,000 through Mahanagar Co-operative Credit Society in 2008. The letter also instructed her to either repay the amount within 15 days, or face the consequences.
“I was shocked to see the letter. The bank has sent a similar letter to my husband Salim as well. I don’t even know where the bank or Society are,” said Mahak.
Mahak and her husband were not the only ones to receive the letters. Over 400 residents of Asalfa village in Ghatkopar have been recipients of the same letter along with residents of Shiv Garjana and Mauli Kripa chawls.
“All residents of Shiv Garjana where I reside, and neighbouring Mauli Kripa chawl have received the letter. I have received two letters, one for Rs 5,000 and second for Rs 30,000,” said Avinash Joshi, an auto rickshaw driver.
Sattar Khan, a resident, had applied for a loan from the Society in the past, but he was turned down due to lack of funds. Now, Khan too has received a letter demanding Rs 30,000 to be repaid. Imtiaz Shaikh, a resident of Dubai also received the letter for havingtaking a loan of Rs 75,000.
On receiving the letter, residents approached the Society’s office. There, officials assured them that they would all be issued NOCs stating that they had not taken the loans, but only on condition that the residents do not notify the police.
Confused residents approached the Ghatkopar police station to straighten things out, but the police booted them out on the excuse that they did not accept complaints on Sundays. The residents have since complained to the EOW for further inquiry.
Residents alleged that a few years back, some agents approached them, offering membership to Mahanagar Co-operative Credit Society. Claiming that they would pay the membership fee of Rs 100 out of their own pockets, the agents allegedly asked residents to provide them with copies of their ration cards, election cards and two photographs. “I never applied for any loan. Some years back, an agent had taken our documents on the pretext of membership. Now I have got letter for taking a loan of Rs 30,000,” said Salim Pathan, a small-scale businessman.
About 11 months back, the Society had employed one Savita Bhalerao, and taken her documents during her interview. Savita later resigned, as the Society was not paying her salary on time. Savita’s sister Surekha Kamble had also opened an account in the Society, which had never been operated, as she had no money. She too received a notice for a loan of Rs 30,000 taken in her name from Mumbai Bank.
Shockingly, the bank had also issued loans to some former Society employees, students and minors who had no connection with the Society.
The other side
Ankush Aher, director of Mahanagar Co-op Credit Society said, “Some residents have approached us with letters they had received. We told them to go to Mumbai Bank as they have sent the letters. This is the handiwork of the Mumbai Bank, and within a week we are going to file a suit against the bank. We have called for a directors’ meeting, following which we shall decide our line of action. Some residents are also trying to extort money from us.” “It’s true that we have sent letters to residents. Mahanagar Society has taken loans. We are investigating the matter. We are going to take action against Mahanagar Society,” said Shivaji Nalawade, director of Mumbai District Central Co-operative Bank.