Mumbai: Ex-ICICI Bank Employee, Accomplice Defraud SoBo Family Of ₹10 Crore In Elaborate Scheme

Mumbai: Ex-ICICI Bank Employee, Accomplice Defraud SoBo Family Of ₹10 Crore In Elaborate Scheme

Sharma even applied for various loans under the Valecha family’s name to siphon money off their bank accounts.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Sunday, February 11, 2024, 10:57 AM IST
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A South-Mumbai-based family was cheated by an ex-employee of the ICICI Bank, who previously worked as a relationship manager – to the tune of Rs. 10 crores. 

The complainant in the matter is a woman named Monika Valecha (49), a resident of Gamdevi. Monika’s father Vasudev Valecha (84) lives in Peddar Road with his wife Shanti (74). After Mr Valecha retired from his business, he deposited all his savings at banks. Monika, her parents, and her three sisters share a joint bank account at ICICI Bank.

Details of fraud

Given Mr Valecha's age and assets, he is termed a high-net-worth (HNW) individual category by the bank and hence, he was assigned a ‘relationship manager’ named Ravi Sharma in 2019, who handled every matter related to the bank and money for him. Sharma visited Mr Valecha’s residence now and then, and he even paid a visit to his daughters. Given the time they spent together, everybody in the Valecha family began to trust Sharma with everything. This includes bringing forms to sign, making DEMAT accounts, FD-related forms, insurance, mutual funds, and other investment-related procedures. 

Whenever Mr Valecha made huge transactions from one bank to ICICI bank via Sharma, Sharma would bring gifts in the form of Television, mobile phones, juicers, watches, and even movie tickets saying it was a reward from the bank.

On January 12, Monika had to withdraw some money, for which she was trying to use her credit card. Despite trying multiple times, her transactions were declined by the system, after which she called Sharma to ask about it. Sharma told Monika to not withdraw money from the credit card, and instead asked her to use the debit card, which she did. When she saw the receipt from the ATM after withdrawing Rs. 12,000, the account balance showed Rs. 200.

Some days later, on January 16, Monika, her father and her sister, visited ICICI bank’s main branch in Nariman Point to get bank statements of their joint account. Mr Valecha’s account balance was Rs. 9, while his wife’s balance was Rs. 771, Monika’s account balance was Rs. 254, and her sisters’ account balances were Rs. 144, and Rs 41 – according to the bank statements. According to Monika, their account balance including all the investments, the money should be somewhere near Rs. 10 crores.

Branch manager informs of fraud and launches internal investigation

They later approached the bank manager of the branch who informed them about the fraud and launched an internal investigation to find out more. Monika inquired about Ravi Sharma to the branch’s deputy manager, and to their surprise, the manager said, Sharma had quit his job almost three months ago. Sharma, who might have predicted the Valecha family visiting the head branch, had asked a present employee to provide a fake bank statement to them. Sharma even applied for various loans under the Valecha family’s name to siphon money off their bank accounts.

According to Gamdevi police, where the FIR has been registered on Friday night, Sharma was undertaking the entire fraud with the help of a man named Dhwanik Bhat, who has been added as an accused in the case. Both have been charged with offences under section 120B (criminal conspiracy), 409 (criminal breach of trust by banker), 420 (cheating), and 465 (forgery), among others of the Indian Penal Code.

ICICI Bank Shares Statement

ICICI Bank spokesperson said, "Our customers are our utmost priority, and we are wholeheartedly dedicated to safeguarding their interests. In line with this philosophy, in this case also we will ensure that the customers do not suffer any financial loss, due to the fraudulent activity perpetrated by a former employee. Moreover, we have filed a First Information Report (FIR) against this individual and we will cooperate with the authorities in their investigation."

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