‘Bank’ing on an idea lands them in jail

Caught running fake YES Bank branch in Dharmapuri

Chennai: You would have heard of looting of money from banks but have you come across a bank being opened to loot money from the public? Well, that’s what a smart Alec tried in western Tamil Nadu’s backward Dharmapuri district. But his luck ran out soon enough and he is now counting the bars in his prison cell instead of cash.

Sometime ago, the YES Bank in Salem district had hired 31-year-old Somasundaram as its ”Business Correspondent” (an intermediary who extends banking and financial services to areas where the banks did not have a brick and mortar presence) in Dharmapuri district. Quickly gaining knowledge about the nitty-gritty of banking operations, Somasundaram two months ago chose to set up a brick and mortar bank on the sly opposite the Government Arts College in Dharmapuri on the Salem Main Road. He named it as the YES ABS Bank with the name board suggesting that it was a branch of the YES Bank.

Somasundaram designated himself as the Chief Executive Officer and distributed pamphlets in and around Dharmapuri town canvassing depositors for the newly opening bank. He also employed three of his friends – Balaji, Sundaresan and Jayaprabhu – in various designations. Besides, he collected Rs 1,000 as application fee from many youth who were on the lookout for employment in the new bank.

The fraudsters even printed banking challan and passbooks to hoodwink people. As many as 83 residents of the small town were fooled into believing that it was a genuine bank and they cumulatively deposited a little over Rs 1.60 lakh in the last months in the bank.

Somasundaram would have made more money but luck ran out for him as YES Bank officials in Salem, which is around 70 kms from Dharmapuri, were taken in by surprise when word about their ”Dharmapuri branch” reached them. Soon, Sasikumar, the YES Bank’s Salem branch manager, visited Dharmapuri only to find a bank operating under the name of YES ABS Bank. He lodged a complaint with the local police who got cracking on Ganesh Chathurthi day (Monday).

“Though it was a rented premises, they managed to run it like a proper bank with challan, deposit slips and logo of the YES Bank. We have arrested Somasundaram and two of his associates. Jayaprabhu has gone absconding. We also arrested Murugesan, the owner of the printing press where the fake bank challans were printed,” said Dharmapuri Superintendent of Police B Gangadhar.

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