After credit outreach programme, banks notice alarming rise in efforts to dupe customers

Cases spiked after credit outreach programme to disburse loans to priority sectors

After noticing an alarming rise in the efforts by fraudsters to dupe the general public with loan offers, the manager of the lead bank of Kodagu district has sought to caution the public against falling prey to cyber criminals.

A lead bank is assigned the role of co-ordinating disbursal of loans to priority sectors identified by the government. The lead bank works in co-ordination with the district administration. In Kodagu, the lead bank is Union Bank of India.

Kodagu district lead bank manager R.K. Balachandra has, in a statement, said that the number of phone calls received by customers from online fraudsters had increased sharply after a credit outreach programme was held across Kodagu district on October 22 to create awareness about loans and other schemes offered by banks.

Fraudsters claiming to be representatives of various banks, which had been enlisted by the government to disburse loans, were calling customers and asking them to share copies of their documents, viz. PAN card, Aadhaar card, ration card, electricity bills, bank pass book and two passport-size photographs through WhatsApp. “The documents they seek are more or less the same that any bank does,” he said.

As part of their modus operandi, they ask people to deposit an amount ranging from ₹3,500 to ₹10,000 to process their loan application. In most cases, the fraudsters ask their victims to make the payment to digital or e-wallets.

Mr. Balachandra said the fraudsters are misusing the credit awareness camps organised by public and private sector banks in various districts as part of the Government of India’s credit outreach programme to help people hit by the COVID-19 pandemic. The first phase of the programme, which began in Karnataka on October 11, will end on October 30.

He cautioned the public against entertaining calls from persons claiming to be part of the credit outreach programme. He also warned against parting with either One Time Password (OTP) sent to their mobile phones, CVV number on the back of the debit or credit card, Personal Identification Number (PIN), or their internet banking password.

Among other things, fraudsters have started calling customers and claiming that funds will be credited to their Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan account if they share the OTP. “Once the OTP is shared, they will remove all the money in your bank account,” he warned.

Some of the mobile phone numbers, which were used to make fraudulent calls, had been shared with the Cyber Crime, Economic offences and Narcotics (CEN) police station in Madikeri.

However, officials at the CEN police station said a case can be registered and an investigation can be taken up only if victims of fraud lodge a formal complaint.

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