Consumer body asks SBI to refund Rs 18.36 lakh to elderly couple

The incident took place in 2019 when the victims received a link on their mobile phone asking them to update their KYC. The couple lost the money the moment they clicked on the link

The judgment came as a relief to many bank customers who are falling prey to online banking scams. Representational Visual

The Consumer Commission Gondia (Maharashtra) has asked the SBI to reverse a disputed transaction of ₹ 18.36 lakh which was withdrawn by online fraudsters from an elderly couple’s account, according to cybercrime news portal The420.

The judgment came as a relief to many who fall prey to online banking scams. It dealt with various issues such as what amounts to negligence aainst the backdrop of growing digital transactions and whether various guidelines issued by RBI for the protection of customers’ money are diligently followed by banks.

The news portal said the incident took place on November 20, 2019, when the victims – Suresh Bholeshwar Katre and Minakshi Suresh Katre – received a link on their mobile phone asking to update their KYC.

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“Your SBI account will be suspended today 20/11/19 due to the wrong date of birth verified in your bank account. For reactive upgrade Fully KYC, immediately by online visiting click link below.”

Thinking that the SMS was from the bank, the couple clicked the link as they had submitted the documents for KYC verification the same day to the bank. After responding to the link they lost Rs 18,36,400 from two savings bank accounts.

The couple immediately reported the matter to the bank as well as to the police but did not get any affirmative response. The couple approached Consumer Forum through their counsel Dr Mahendra Limaye.

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Limaye in his argument highlighted that the information about submission of KYC verification was only with the bank and there was no reason to disbelieve that this message could have been sent by any other person and hence there is no fault of the complainant.

He also said that the bank was unable to provide any information of the beneficiary and this non-providence of beneficiary accounts information as well as not initiating quick action of recalling the amount from customers’ accounts by the bank is a deficiency in service.

The commission presided over by Sarita B Raipure and Bhaskar B Yogi held that there was no negligence on the part of the elderly couple and that the bank has committed deficiency in service. The bank was directed to pay ₹ 18,36,400 along with simple interest of 6% pa from the date of report of fraud and also ₹ 25,000 towards mental harassment and ₹ 10,000 towards litigation expenses.

The National Consumer Disputes Redressal Commission of India is a quasi-judicial commission in India that was set up in 1988 under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986.