You’d surely be left bewildered if your ATM dispensed notes marked “Children’s Bank of India”.
That’s precisely what a cash machine did in Bareilly on Sunday last week when three men swiped in their cards.
Local journalist Praveen Uttam was in for a rude shock first when he took out Rs 1,200 from an ATM of United Bank of India in Bareilly’s Subhash Nagar neighbourhood. A 500 bill had “Children’s Bank of India” printed on its one side and “Bharatiya Manoranjan Bank” on the other.
ATM in UP dispenses ‘Churan Lable’, ‘Children Bank of India’ Rs 500 notes
As Uttam stood confused in the cabin, another local resident, Ashok Pathak, took out Rs 4,500. This gentlemen also found two “Children’s Bank” bills of 500 in the wad.
When a third customer walked in, Uttam and Pathak pulled their phones out and filmed him using the ATM. The evidence was caught on tape – out of two 500 notes, one was fake again.
The three men approached the bank manager, Bachchan Shah, showed him the bogus notes and video and filed a formal complaint.
In no time, that Bareilly ATM was in news – on TV, newspapers and social media – for spewing out play money.
An India Today investigation tracked the story from point to point.
The probe showed cash transportation and filling for the UBI’s all three ATMs in Bareilly city was done by a firm called Securitrans India Private Limited.
The company provided similar services to Citi, Standard Chartered, American Express, ICICI and Canara banks. As of, 2011, Securitrans operates as a subsidiary of CMS Info Systems Private Limited.
Shah told India Today that his bank and the transport agency communicate with each other on email. The cash is handed over to Securitrans staff, who transports it to the UBI ATMs for refills, Shah added.
One machine, he explained, could hold banknotes worth Rs 20 lakh. The ATM that delivered Children’s Bank money was last loaded on April 19, the bank manager said.
That day Securitrans staff, identified as Rahul Mishra, collected a cash consignment of Rs 6 lakh from the UBI branch, according to Shah.
Bank cashier Aniket Babu recalled Mishra was given 100 bills in the denomination of 2,000 and the rest in 500.
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Per standard operating procedures, every banknote is verified on automated machines, which scan and discard fakes immediately.
When reporters tested the note-testing machine, it successfully sifted bogus ATM notes.
When India Today reached out to Securitrans, no one in the company was contactable. The probe found out the number it had given on its official letter head had only nine digits – 936853488 – instead of ten.
Its staff Mishra, who transported the bank cash to the ATM on April 19, too didn’t turn up to speak.
Meantime, the UBI’s head office wrote that the bank has launched a thorough investigation into the complaints of bogus deliveries to its ATM in Bareilly.
But India Today’s investigation has raised some serious questions over the role of the cash-agency staff.
The probe revealed the cash consignment could only be tampered with during the transportation from the bank and the ATM – and not before.