BENGALURU: A retired professor from Bangalore University (BU) had not opted for online banking or mobile banking, but lost his retirement funds of nearly Rs 13 lakh from his bank account. savings for the benefit of online fraudsters. Denied a refund, the 65-year-old approached a city consumer court, which has now ordered the bank to return the stolen amount and pay Rs 35,000 for the trouble he got into. been caused.
Prof. KP Sreenath retired from BU after several years of service and received his pension benefits totaling Rs 25 lakh, which he had kept in the SBI account he held at the Nagarbhavi branch of the nationalized bank. On March 11, 2019, Sreenath filed an application with the bank branch for the transfer of Rs 25 lakh to his account in another bank at Yadavanne of Kunigal taluk, Tumakuru district. But an attempt to transfer RTGS money by the Bengaluru bank branch failed as the senior citizen mistakenly provided the wrong account number. While the money remained in his bank branch in Nagarbhavi, Sreenath left for Yadavanne to tend to his farm.
On April 30, 2019, the professor returned to the Nagarbhavi bank branch and found that Rs 12,93,922 had been withdrawn from his account through UTI and transferred to different e-wallet accounts, payment interfaces which the old man was unaware of as he is a user of checkbooks and passbooks.
The branch manager confirmed that fraudulent transactions took place between April 12 and April 30, 2019, during which a mobile banking personal identification number (mPIN) was created using his bank account and one-time passwords (OTPs) were then generated multiple times to make money transfer to PayTM and Airtel e-wallet accounts. A shocked Sreenath immediately filed a complaint with the bank and another complaint with Jnanabharathi police.
However, the bank claimed it was Sreenath’s fault that he lost the money. The bank said it filed a complaint seven days after the fraud, although RBI requires such grievances to be raised within three working days in order to be reimbursed. When banking authorities denied him a refund, he contacted the Consumer Dispute Settlement Commission of Bangalore 1st Supplementary District in Shantinagar in July 2021, with a complaint against the branch manager and general manager of the bank in Bangalore .
Sreenath pleaded her case, while the attorney representing SBI called her claim bogus and urged the court to dismiss the case.
The lawyer further stated that the professor received text messages to start an mPIN and OTPs for money transfers, which he ignored claiming that he trusted SBI as he was not a online banking user. He also said the professor answered a phone call from a fraudster posing as a bank manager and revealed his Aadhaar details.
On May 27, 2022, consumer forum judges observed that a customer revealing their Aadhaar card details could not justify having their bank account compromised. They pointed out that the bank had admitted that fraudsters had indeed diverted money from its account. The judge said the bank failed to prove the professor unknowingly aided in the fraud.
The court pointed out that the professor only learned of the fraud after he reached the bank on April 30, 2019 and filed a complaint on May 2. He therefore filed a complaint with the bank within three working days in accordance with the RBI requirement, the judges said.
The court ordered the manager of the Nagarbhavi bank branch to return the amount (Rs 12,93,922) to Sreenath’s account with interest, in addition to paying him Rs 25,000 for damages and Rs 10,000 for his legal costs.