Gang steals Rs 48 lakh from SBI cash deposit machines; lender puts withdrawal on hold

Abusing technology that is meant to help customers, a gang has stolen Rs 48 lakh from various cash deposit machines of in Tamil Nadu, police said here on Tuesday. The government owned top lender meanwhile said it has halted the facility to withdraw cash from these machines across the country, as an immediate preventive measure and these could be used only to deposit cash.

According to police, totally Rs 48 lakh has been stolen from Automated Cash Withdrawal and Deposit Machines also known as Cash Deposit Machines (CDM) located in various places including Velachery here.

The CDMs provide a 20-second window to customers to take cash away and if it was not done, the cash went back into the machines. If cash was taken, the lid of the machine would slide and get closed.

Probe indicated that the suspects first took the cash from the machines (using withdrawal option in such machines) and then prevented the lid from getting closed for a while by using their hands.

The sensors appeared to have misread this action for “cash not being taken away” by customers and sent messages to servers that cash has not been withdrawn. Hence, the related bank accounts were not debited while cash was taken away from machines.

Addressing reporters, Police Commissioner Shankar Jiwal said probe indicated that a small group of men from outside of Tamil Nadu are the suspects.

There are leads on the crime and this is the first time cash has been stolen from CDMs using this modus operandi and only the SBI’s CDMs were targeted, he said.

“This will not happen again. There was a flaw and this has been blocked (by bank) and such a thing cannot happen by (mis) using that flaw. In the past about one week, similar incidents have been reported from other states as well.”

The bank has suffered a loss of Rs 48 lakh and CCTV footages were being scrutinised and a special team has been assigned to crack the case, he said adding other banks should take preventive steps.

SBI’s Chief General Manager Radhakrishnan said as an immediate preventive measure, they have taken back the facility to withdraw cash from such deposit machines, all over the country.

Answering a question, he told reporters that out of the two companies that supplied such machines, the fraud has been found to be committed on machines of a particular firm. Now, only cash can be deposited in all such machines, he said referring to the action taken.

“Public have not lost money. It is the loss of the bank.” Such crimes seem to have happened across the country lately but there is no specific information, the bank official said.

Officials have also been directed to check if there has been shortage of cash in such machines under their administrative ambit, the bank official said.

The system has to be upgraded to prevent such things from happening in future, he added. VGN SS

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