Rs 6 lakh withdrawn using cloned cheques from Ram Temple construction trust account

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A gang of fraudsters used cloned cheques to withdraw Rs 6 lakh from Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust’s bank account meant for collection of funds for Ram temple construction in Ayodhya, a police officer said on Thursday.

Ayodhya’s deputy inspector general, Deepak Kumar, said the amount was withdrawn using cloned cheques of Rs 2.5 lakh and Rs 3.5 lakh. He said a First Information Report (FIR) has been registered against unknown people on the complaint of the trust’s secretary, Champat Rai.

Kumar said the trust authorities have confirmed original cheques of the same serial numbers used to withdraw the money are with them. He said the fraud was discovered when Rai got a verification call from the bank on Wednesday afternoon when the third cloned cheque of Rs 9.86 lakh was placed for clearance. He said the authorities later discovered two cloned cheques had been used to withdraw money earlier on September 1 and 3.

He said the FIR has been registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC)’s sections 419 (impersonation) and 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for cheating) and 471 (using forged cheque as original).

Kumar said an initial probe has suggested negligence of bank authorities, as well as the involvement of bank employees, as serial numbers of the cheques were compromised and that allowed fraudsters to prepare the cloned ones. He said the cloned cheques contained forged signatures of Rai and another member of the trust.

Kumar said the amount withdrawn has been transferred to a Punjab National Bank account. “A police team is probing the money trail to trace the fraudsters and people involved in compromising the trust bank account details to unearth the racket involved the crime.”

Vishva Hindu Parishad’s regional spokesperson, Sharad Sharma, called the forgery a serious issue. “Stern action must be taken against those involved in this cloning of cheques. The Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust has also taken the issue seriously.”

The trust was formed to oversee the construction of the temple after the Supreme Court in November last year paved the way for it and ended years of litigation.

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