Sunday, April 22, 2012

The Fraud concluding part

read  part 1   part 2   part 3

It was finally time for lunch and Anu had grown tired of calling him repeatedly. She hurriedly walked towards Ravi’s desk. It was empty. She was sure she had seen him a couple of minutes ago. Maybe he was using the washroom. She waited. 15 minutes and still no sign of him. She checked his counter for Mr. Mehta’s cheque. There was none. She asked his neighbor, Sharad if he had seen Ravi go out.
“Ravi hasn’t come today. I haven’t seen him all day.” Sharad replied.
‘What nonsense’, she thought,’ I have been seeing him all morning. How could Sharad have not seen him?’
She asked a few more people if they had seen Ravi. Same answer. She felt weak. Was she hallucinating when she saw Ravi? If Ravi was absent from work, whom had she given the cheque to for verification? She walked back to her desk in a daze.
She decided to delete the entry for 12 lakhs so that there would be no questions at the end of the day about the unverified cheque entry. To her disbelief there was no such entry! It couldn’t be, she was sure she had made that entry herself. She tried calling Ravi again.

No reply.

She desperately wanted the cheque back, should it reach wrong hands. No luck. It was almost closing time and the crowd at the branch began to thin out. She wrapped up her work and darted out of the branch.

 Then she called Ravi again . Thankfully he picked up the phone this time.
“Where have you been Ravi? I have been calling you all day”, she screamed without waiting for him to speak.
“Hello, who is this?” the voice at the other end asked.
A female voice. Who could it be?
“This is Anu,” she continued,” can I speak to Ravi? Where is he?”
“He has gone to the airport to book tickets to Dubai. I am his fiancée Poornima.”
She disconnected the phone reeling under the impact of what she had just heard.  Who was this girl claiming to be his fiancée? Ravi had never mentioned Poornima at any time before. Why was he running off to Dubai like this? As if on impulse, she hired an auto and went to AM bank and checked the joint account she held with Ravi there. After withdrawing the money from the fake Sanghamitra account, they had been depositing it all with this other bank.
“Can I know the balance in this account?”she asked.
There is no money in this account madam” the guy behind the counter replied.
What? Who drew the money? Where did the money go?”, she asked in disbelief.
“Madam, the transfer is to Mr. Ravi’s account in The Ram bank. The transfer happened today morning.”
Then it dawned on her.
Cheat. How dare he do this to her? So that is why he was absent from work. He had planned to run away with all their money? She sat on a bench nearby and sobbed uncontrollably. He had not just cheated her financially but also played with her emotions. He had promised her of undying love. She couldn’t believe he had planned to run away with that girl Poornima. It was all her plan, her ideas, and he would reap the fruits of her labour! She wept for a long time not knowing what to do. She had loved him more than her life and he had decided to dump her so unceremoniously?
Then she got up, determined to teach him a lesson. She walked to the nearest police station and spilled the beans on the fraud they had committed together. If she was left in the lurch, she would ensure that he paid for his deceit too. She wept softly pitying herself when Ravi stormed into the police station handcuffed and trying to break free.
“How could you do this Anu?” he barked.
Now it was her turn to unleash her fury. Look at the nerve of this guy to ask her such things. What did he think he was?
Oh yea, Mr. Ravi, I should have kept quiet, isn’t it? So that you could have decamped with all our money and with that girl Poornima, whoever she is? You creep, serves you right for trying to cheat me.”
“What? Who Poornima? I don’t know any Poornima.”
“Stop it, you brute, she picked up your phone when I called. She told me you guys were getting married and flying to Dubai. You swiped our joint account clean and transferred all the money to your account. You cheat. I hate you. Rot in hell Ravi.”
“No wait. My mobile was lost yesterday evening. I learnt that Sheenu had all proof of our misdoings and also had obtained the account number at the AM bank. So I hurriedly transferred all the money to the other account I had at The Ram bank. And trust me there’s no Poornima.”

Just then Sheenu walked in taking both Anu and Ravi by surprise. She was accompanied by the branch manager and the cluster head. The Anti- fraud team from head office had also accompanied them.   
“Anu, Ravi’s right. There’s no Poornima, only Sheenu, who stole Ravi’s phone yesterday. I knew I had you guys by your cuff, but you could still get out scott free as your crime could never be proved. So the only way out was to get you to confess. Sorry, but your game’s up guys.”

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The fraud part 3

 Read part 1 part 2
Anu looked up at Ravi again waving her mobile at him beckoning him to pick up her call. The phone rang for several seconds but Ravi seemed oblivious to its ringing. He simply looked at Anu and smiled. She grew tired of his smiles and it seemed odd and stupid. Why was he not picking up her call? She wanted to walk up to him and ask him what was so funny and why he had not got the last transaction of Mr. Mehta verified, but the crowd of customers waiting outside her counter had her glued to her seat.  

Ten days ago, Mr. Mehta had come to the bank to change some foreign currency. He had arrived in India with his wife and son a month ago and had planned to go to Kerala for a week’s stay before they returned back to Qatar. They would be travelling from Trivandrum directly and not coming back to Mumbai. Anu smiled at the opportunity and went through her rehearsed routine of mismatched signatures and new cheque. After Mr. Mehta had left she checked his account and was pleasantly surprised to see 12 lakhs in his account. ‘ I’ll transfer the entire amount after about 10 days,’ she thought, ‘anyway this is our last time here and I do not want any goof ups.’ And she had kept the cheque carefully with her. Today, it was almost ten days since she had been holding the cheque. She assumed the family would have left for Qatar and made the transfer entry using Kavita’s id and passed on the cheque to Ravi for verification.
 And here Ravi was sitting on the goldmine without acting on it. Didn’t he realize it would take her a long time to withdraw the entire amount in parts and deposit it into the other account? She didn’t want to be caught at this stage when everything had happened so smoothly without any suspicions or enquiries.

There had been a few glitches here and there, but Ravi had always taken care of it as he promised. The office boy, Yoga, had been the first to smell that something was amiss. Yoga had been filing the daily vouchers for cash receipt and withdrawls when he casually mentioned to Ravi over lunch that some of the employees were not putting their initials properly on certain high value cheques, and the mandatory letters for withdrawl of large sums were also missing. He wanted to report it to the branch manager. Ravi had convinced him to stay away from it and had assured Yoga that he himself would report it to the BM. Within a few days Ravi misplaced some important files on purpose and framed Yoga resulting in his expulsion from the branch. Of course Yoga never suspected Ravi was behind his termination.
Neetu, a new joinee had once observed Anu making entrees from another employee’s id and had pointed out that it was not ethical. Soon enough, she was committing errors with even simple transactions and was directly in the line of fire. Shortly she was shifted to a bigger branch to learn the process under senior colleagues.
Rohit was another colleague who had chanced upon Anu putting his initials on a cheque and had mentioned it to Ravi. He didn’t seem threatening, but Ravi paid an old friend who was into gang wars and the like, to injure Rohit in a bike accident. Rohit was out of action for almost 6 months and yet to return back to the office. He would surely have forgotten about it by the time he came back.
Anyone who had the slightest doubt were always ‘taken care of’ by Ravi.  But of late, harmless incidents had been giving way to serious ones. Anu had been averse to causing bodily harm to anyone. We don’t want anyone’s blood on our hands, she had pleaded. Ravi had assured her it would not happen again.
Unfortunately, Sheenu the girl in charge of account opening had an eye on them since the day Sanghamitra Ghosh’s account had been opened. She had wondered why the old lady had needed two accounts when managing one was painful for her. She had quietly been keeping track of the transactions happening in the account with the help of a friend in another branch of the bank. She had initially been aghast to learn of the huge amount of money coming in and moving out of the account. She now had a full inventory of the fraud happening in the account and knew who was committing it but she did not have proof against the two. It was purely by luck that Ravi chanced upon her diary and realized their game would be up soon. He had therefore decided to quit and go to Dubai with Anu before it was too late.
She had to be taken care of soon.

 read concluding part

Friday, April 20, 2012

The Fraud part 2

Mr. Kannan sat across the desk waiting for the transaction to be completed.  Anu diligently tapped away at the keyboard before she looked up and frowned.
“Sir, I am sorry but your signatures do not match. Can you please sign a new cheque leaf?”
“Oh, is it? I have not used this account for almost 4 years now; I have forgotten how I have signed. Can you please help me?”
“Sure sir, but first can I ask you some verification questions?”
Mr. Kannan nodded. She proceeded with the usual questions, date of birth, mother’s maiden name, ID proof etc and then smiled satisfied with the answers.
Sir, let me show you how you have signed.” She turned the monitor to face the customer so that he could see his signature in the computer.
“Yeah I remember now, there’s not much of a difference but thanks for your help Ms. Anu. I’ll be happy to sign again.”
“Sir could you kindly use a fresh cheque leaf, overwriting is not allowed. I’ll destroy this one.”
She tore a cheque leaf and threw it in the dustbin. Simultaneously she deactivated the mobile alert in his account. He would not receive alerts for any transaction henceforth.
The transaction was completed and Mr. Kannan got up to leave, satisfied.
“When will you be back sir?” she asked innocently.
“I am leaving tomorrow and I guess it will be another 4 years before I can come back to India again.” he smiled.
“If you need any help with your account, you can call me anytime sir, I’ll be glad to help.” She offered her contact number.
After Mr. Kannan left, she checked his account to see the balance. ‘Six lakhs!’ she beamed. She saw that he had never used this account for any transactions while he was out of the country. He had just used it in case he needed cash during his visit to India. She filled the amount in the cheque leaf he had signed a moment earlier. The cheque leaf she had pretended to destroy but had destroyed one of her own instead. She tucked it into her purse and smiled. She transferred the amount two days later into her fake account. Then she withdrew the money in parts and deposited it in an account with another bank.

Mr. Kannan had been her first victim and it would a long time before he found out about the fraud and complained. Any which way, she could never be implicated in the fraud. Ravi had ensured that both of them were never officially involved in the transactions. Every transaction had needed to be entered by an employee of the officer grade and verified by a senior officer. Ravi had ensured that he had got the transactions verified using his colleagues id’s and password and Anu had ensured to do the same.  They never used their own id’s for the transactions lest their fraud be caught in the future. They had carried out this routine several times in the past eight months. They had accumulated a huge sum of money and this would be the very last transaction before they quit their job in the bank.

 Read part 3

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The fraud part 1

Anu sat at her desk impatiently tapping the table with her pen. She had checked her account for the umpteenth time since morning and there was no sign of any money being transferred to the account. She glanced at Ravi to see what he was doing. Ravi was not only her colleague in the bank she worked with but also her boy friend and the love of her life. The one she had dreamt of marrying soon. He looked up at her and smiled. She wondered what he was smiling at. She tried to check if he still had the cheque in his possession. His table looked empty. She had done her job making the entry in the system and passed on the cheque to him, but no money could be transferred till Ravi verified the transaction.
‘It is a high value transaction sweetheart, hurry up, 12 lakhs is no joke’ she tried to convey with her lovely kohl lined eyes.
She wondered what was taking him so long.  She and Ravi had decided to quit the job at the Lakshmi Cooperative Bank later this week and move to Dubai. They would get married and live life “King Size” as Ravi would often say. They had accumulated quite a huge sum of money in their account and it would be enough for a long long time. She picked up her mobile and dialed Ravi’s number.
‘Pick up the phone Ravi...’
Eight months ago Mrs. Sanghamitra Ghosh had walked into her branch balancing herself precariously on her walking stick. She was very fond of Anu, who had always helped her with a smile. She met the branch manager and told him she was too weak to come to the branch for transactions and requested him to assign a person to help her so that she could conduct her transactions sitting at home. The manager saw that the lady had quite a good balance in her account. Her son who lived abroad had been depositing money into the account every month and she had been receiving some rental income too. He agreed to upgrade her account to a premier account so that someone could be assigned to help her with her transactions. She insisted on Anu being assigned to help her as she had been comfortable dealing with her. Anu was sent to her house the next day to collect some documents.
That is when Anu hit upon a devious plan. She not only collected the documents and signatures for upgrading the customer’s account but also original ID and address proof required to open a new account. The old lady did not suspect a thing and neither did the people at the bank. A new account was opened in the name of Sanghamitra Ghosh with all valid documents. One, which the poor lady had no inkling of and Anu was free to operate it as her own. The lady’s signatures were always scrawled indecipherably and the manager had been generous to pass her cheques whether her signatures had matched or not. It was easy for Anu to copy the signatures and by the end of one month she had become quite a pro. She marveled how she could sign better than the old lady. When the cheque book and debit cards had arrived for the new account, Anu had collected them from her branch to deliver it to the lady, but never did. No one had suspected anything because Anu had been religiously serving the customer for quite some time, depositing her cheques, withdrawing cash for her, filling out her forms, and carrying out any transaction that the lady might require help with.

read part 2

Monday, April 16, 2012

The heart and the head

`twas a war that shattered my peace,
and rocked me off my bed,
the never ending battle,
between the heart and the head.

the head asserting its views,
rationale galore it fires,
motive just to convince,
like lawyers or like liars,

the heart pure in its motive,
transparent, no hidden ill,
advice bitter yet remedial,
the proverbial pill.

caught in the crossfire,
struggling to comprehend,
who`d win the duel,
when the strife would end.

if the heart reigns supreme,
love would coat the pain,
and if it is the head,
suffering may conceal the gain.

though the final outcome,
the thrifty mind can cognise,
yet each time the dilemma,
never fails to arise.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Abduction - concluding part

Read part 1part 2 here

As soon as Aarzoo called her uncle, he immediately contacted AT&T to track the mobile. They would then use Google street view finder to know the exact address. They had very little time before they abductors found out that the cards and jewels were fake. Manek had to be traced before that. As soon as Aarzoo had messaged him the number, the tracking of the mobile had begun. The GPS system started showing movement and his team prepared for an ambush.

They followed the navigator and after about half an hour, they spotted the guy in the peon’s clothes as described by Aarzoo. The peon was riding a moped with a bag slung across his shoulders. The 3 police jeeps turned off their lights and moved very slowly. After a few more minutes he seemed to have reached his destination. He parked the moped under a tree and walked. They were surprised that the abductors had not traveled far outside the city. Radhekrishna parked his jeep about 200 meters away from the place and decided to walk so as not to alert the abductors. They were just on the outskirts of the city in an isolated ground surrounded by banyan trees and still inside the SUV.

His team of 12 followed and the remaining 6 stayed in the 3 jeeps.  He spotted Manek’s SUV with the lights turned on. He could make out 7 people sitting in the SUV. 5 of them were masked; one was in the driving seat and one blindfolded. ‘That must be Manek’ he thought. Manek had to be safely brought out before they attacked the others or else they could kill Manek. He wondered what weapons they had. He signaled his team to wait till the time was right. He wanted the driver to get off for some reason so that they couldn’t drive away when attacked.

They had been patiently waiting for more than an hour when 6 of them including the driver got off to relieve themselves. The driver was heading straight in his direction. Good. His men dispersed in two’s in the directions the other abductors had gone. As the driver neared him, he swiftly placed one hand on the driver’s mouth and shot him point blank before the driver could even realize that he had been attacked. He dropped dead at Radhe’s feet. He would have preferred to catch the guy alive, but he didn’t want to risk the guy raising an alarm.

‘One down, five to go’ he cheered himself. He wondered how his team was doing. There were silencers in everyone’s revolvers so he would not hear any gun shots. He saw the lone tall guy in the SUV with Manek, peeping out of the window. As if on impulse he fired a shot that hit the guy on his forehead startling Manek.

‘Two down’ he counted. He hoped Manek would realize that help was around and not do anything stupid. He waited 5...10...15… minutes had elapsed and not a single sound heard. What were his men up to? He pressed a little buzzer in his pocket that sent signals to all his men that Manek was alone in the car. Suddenly he heard gun shots in all directions. One of his men came running to him and informed him that two of the abductors had been killed and only two left now. They had spotted one of the policemen and fired at him. He had been injured in the left arm. The guy in the peon’s uniform who had collected the bag was running away from the place and the other was running towards the SUV. Radhe ran towards him and distracted the abductor so that he would not harm Manek. Radhe aimed for his thigh and shot him. He fell writhing in pain and was finally caught. He wanted someone alive to know why Manek had been abducted. His team managed to catch the other one firing at his feet.


Manek’s driver was later found gagged and bundled semiconscious in the boot. When questioned, the remaining two abductors revealed that they had planned to kidnap Manek and get him to draw money from his ATM and also gather all the jewels in his house. They had thought it would be better to kidnap Manek instead of his wife or children, because they would be defenseless in his absence. It had been their first attempt at kidnapping, and they had not expected a woman to be so smart and level headed in times of a crisis!

Manek beamed with pride at his wife who had shown a remarkable presence of mind. Had she not intercepted his message and alerted the police, he could have been a dead man today. Mobile tracking had virtually been the abductors undoing. If things hadn’t moved as quickly as it had! He shuddered to think of the outcome.

It was almost 7 in the morning.

“Ready to board your flight jaan?” he asked her with a smile.

“Hmm…but only the flight of fantasy”, she replied with a mischievous twinkle in her eye.


Abducted -part 2

It was almost 11.30pm and the crowd had thinned out at the restaurant. There were not more than half a dozen customers who were also about to finish and leave. The assistant manager Hari noticed that his boss was not there.

“Ramu, have you seen bade saab?” he asked a waiter.

“He must have gone home sir, he was saying something about bhabhiji and the kids leaving for Rajasthan in the morning. He seemed to be in a hurry to close this place.”

It had happened quite a few times before that his boss had left without informing him and Hari had ensured that the place was cleaned and locked up before he left. He didn’t suspect anything and finished his job and left after locking the place.


At home, Arzoo was worried. Manek’s mobile was not reachable and no one was picking the phone at the restaurant. It meant that the place was closed for the day. She called up Hari. He told her that Manek seemed to have left a little early without informing him. She was contemplating whether to call up her brother-in-law when she received a call.

“Aarzoo, it’s me. I am stuck in a meeting so I’ll be late. You may have to postpone your trip. Now listen carefully to what I say, write it down if you want. Your hira, moti and manik are not in the safe. They are in another cupboard. I am sending my peon to the house, give him your Lakshmi bank and cooperative bank credit and debit cards and the shining necklaces. I need some money urgently for a deal. Radhekrishna jaan.”

Aarzoo silently wrote down every word of what he said. Something didn’t sound right. Why did he say that hira, moti and manik are not in the safe? They had not kept any precious stones either at home or in the bank. Why did he want the credit and debit cards of the two closed accounts? He knew there was no money in them. The only shining necklaces that were in her possession were the 1gm gold ones that she had got polished just yesterday to take them with her on vacation. The original gold ones were already in the safekeeping of the bank locker as she would be away for more than a month. What deal was he making at 1 am in the night? Moreover, he did not have a peon. It was also strange that he said radhekrishna before disconnecting. He always said ‘bye jaan’.

 So something was surely wrong. Was there a hidden message? She read it again and again, until it struck her! Her husband had been abducted! She had always referred to his watch as "hira" since it was diamond studded, his SUV as "moti" as it was pearl white and he was "manik". She had named the trio as hira, moti and manik. So he had been abducted in his own car and he was not safe. Radhekrishna was her uncle who worked with the police department. Manek had discreetly suggested that she should take her uncle’s help.

Without wasting time, she called up her uncle who was still on duty. Her uncle suggested that she note down the IMEI no on her mobile by dialing *#06# and activate the GPS and slip the mobile into the bag of jewels that she would hand over to the peon. She did as instructed and a 15 digit serial no flashed on her mobile screen. She noted the number and messaged it to her uncle. Thankfully GPS was already active; she set the GPS locator to update the location every 10 minutes. She switched her SIM with a spare unused one, in case they called again and changed the mode to silent and kept it in the jewels bag.

Just then the bell rang and she found a scrawny looking man at the door. He identified himself as the peon supposed to collect the bag. She handed it to him trying to carefully note his features. He was a thin guy wearing a khakhi peon’s uniform. He sported an unshaven look.

After he had left she made a mental note of the time taken for him to reach to her house. Her husband had called at 1am and it was 1.40am when the peon reached. So her husband was about 30-40 minutes away from her. She called her uncle and gave him all the details about the call, the peon and mobile. Then she walked to the puja room and lit the lamp and said a small prayer for her husband’s safety.


Manek was worried. Had Aarzoo intercepted his signals correctly? Will she manage to send him some help? Will he ever be able to see his wife and kids? What if the abductors realize his plan and kill him? So far they had not suspected anything when he spoke on the phone. He couldn’t be sure. All he could do was wait.

 read part 3 here...

Abduction- part 1

Manek looked at his 18K gold watch studded with diamonds. It was almost 10pm. Today being Saturday had been a very hectic day and customers were still queuing outside his posh restaurant, “The Sovereign”, waiting to be seated. He realized it would take more than a couple of hours before he could get back home and sighed at the thought.

 He had wanted to get home early tonight. His wife and daughters were leaving for their hometown in Rajasthan tomorrow early morning, and he wanted to spend some time with them and see them off to the airport himself. They would not be back for at least a couple of months till the school reopened for the next year.

He signaled a waiter to usher the waiting people into the lobby and put a ‘CLOSED’ sign on the main entrance. He had just taken out his mobile to make a call to his wife and ask her if she was done with the packing when he felt a cold metal touch his neck.

“Stay put, Manek, don’t turn around. Just walk out of the restaurant with me. If you dare to raise your voice I’ll shoot you.”

Manek felt the gun being lowered and did as he was told. He didn’t want any gunshots in his restaurant. He didn’t want to be killed. He had a perfect life and he didn’t want some maniac to end it all. Once outside, the man led Manek to his Fortuner and asked him to get in. He was taken aback to see four masked men already seated inside his vehicle.

‘How did they get in?’ he wondered but didn’t ask.

One of the men blindfolded him and the vehicle sped away to an unknown destination. The noise of the vehicles whizzing past had slowly died down and it started to get quieter.

Manek tried to recollect who among the last few customers had looked suspicious. Most of them had looked like families. There was one large family of about six adults and an equal number of children, and a couple of nuclear families consisting of two adults and one or two kids. There had been a few single men, he remembered seeing about five or six of them, but he had not thought any of them could be the man who accosted him outside the restaurant. There was a bearded guy, tall and wearing a blazer, another one, fat with a paunch who was with a stubby guy. Three of them looked like they had just landed high profile jobs and were out celebrating. He imagined the guy who had put a gun to him could be the bearded guy because he was alone and had been tall enough to put his gun on his neck.

“Arre mamu, look a gold watch. I’ll take this one, I saw it first.”

Manek felt a sweaty hand remove his watch and another one searching his pockets.

“Kalu, see what I found, his wallet is heavier than him”, a second guy was screaming with delight.

“Hey leave something for us too”, the other two chorused and they all burst out laughing.

“Don’t worry boys, you all will get your share. Manek babu will ensure that you do, won’t you Manek?”, said the one who had brought him out and then snatched his mobile,“ That’s a pretty expensive mobile.”

Manek chose to remain silent. ‘So there are five of them, who could it be? No, six, he corrected himself. Someone is driving the car. ’ he thought. He wondered where his driver was and whether he was also involved in all this. The abductors had been in possession of his vehicle so maybe his own driver had set up the trap. He tried to recall if he had any enemies, anyone who would have wanted to kidnap him. He drew a blank. He had been on very good terms with his family, friends, and competitors.

Manek wondered whether anyone at the restaurant had noticed his absence and alerted his wife or the police.

 Read part 2 here
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