Cyber fraud poses as Adar Poonawala dupes Serum Institute's top executive of Rs 1 cr

The fraud unfolded between the afternoons of Wednesday and Thursday, said an official of Bundgarden police station.

Staff ReporterUpdated: Sunday, September 11, 2022, 08:26 AM IST
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Adar Poonawalla, CEO, Serum Institute of India | Photo: twitter image

Cyber fraudsters duped Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) of over Rs 1 crore by posing as the company’s chief executive officer (CEO) Adar Poonawalla sending a message to a top executive seeking money transfers on a popular mobile messaging service. A total of Rs 1,01,01554 were siphoned into eight different accounts from Wednesday afternoon till Thursday 2 am by the scamsters.

Pune Police Commissioner Amitabh Gupta confirmed the case of cyber fraud and cheating was filed at Bund Garden police station on the complaint of SII finance manager Sagar Kittur. “Pune police if further investigating the case with technical and cyber experts,” said Pune Police chief Amitabh Gupta. The Pune Police has registered the First Information Report under IPC sections 419, 420, and 34, including IT Act 66 C and D at Bund Garden police station.

The cyber scamster had sent a WhatsApp message to SII director Satish Deshpande spoofing their CEO Adar Poonawalla's mobile number and asking for money transfers. The director in turn instructed finance manager Sagar Kittur to execute the CEO's instructions for online transfers to different accounts given by the fraudster posing as Ader Poonawalla.

According to the police complaint, Deshpande had received a WhatsApp message from Poonawalla’s mobile number in which some bank account numbers were mentioned.

“Deshpande got fake WhatsApp messages from spoofed Poonawalla’s number instructing to deposit money urgently in certain bank accounts. Over Rs 1.01 crore was deposited in various accounts from the SII Axis Bank account. Later the accounts office realised that the company was cheated,” explained an officer at the Bund Garden police station investigating the case.

SII is an Indian biotechnology and biopharmaceuticals company and is the world’s largest manufacturer of vaccines. It is the major supplier of the Covishield vaccine used by India and many other countries in the fight against COVID-19 pandemic. SII Corporate Communications refused to comment on the case.

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