Money & Banking

Sharing of system password proves costly

L. N. Revathy Coimbatore | Updated on July 31, 2011


When Jayakumar (name changed), a junior executive in a nationalised bank, offered to help his colleagues at work, they appreciated his spirit and dedication.

His colleagues even shared their system password with him , justifying it as ‘operational convenience', but definitely not suspecting his motive. It was then that Jayakumar started his underhand dealings. With powers to pass bills up to Rs 30,000, Jayakumar used his colleague's system to raise a bill (not exceeding his limit)in a bogus name, whenever the concerned clerk was not in her seat, then opened his system to pass the bill.

The amounts so cleared were credited to the said account, which was opened and operated by the clerk himself. Jayakumar would later go to an ATM and draw the cash.

No vouchers were raised or questions asked and this had been going on for years! One day, when an amount of Rs 20,000 was transferred from the head office to the branch, Jayakumar laid his hands on this, which presumably was his first wrong move.

The officer concerned started suspecting Jayakumar's credentials and began watching him quite closely. Within weeks, Jayakumar's father took ill and he had to go on leave. It was then they found that something was wrong and started probing into the issue.

Incidentally, as luck would have it, Jayakumar was not shifted out of his seat, or even asked to swap seats in the branch for six long years.

He had befriended every branch head posted in the said branch and every person, including customers, to an extent that no one believed his guilt when the fraud was exposed.

He had by then siphoned sums amounting to around Rs 50 lakh. Auditors didn't sense any foul play, his friends refused to accept the truth and branch managers had signed the day book in blind faith!

The result is more terrifying than the fraud. Managers, who had served in the said branch, are being held responsible for signing the day book and his colleagues who innocently shared their password are in deep trouble.

You may wonder what is in a password, but be cautioned. It could be the beginning to an end. This incident seemed no better than the one that happened in another public sector bank.

Knowledge of computers

Here, the culprit was a 23-year-old contract employee, who used to help credit card applicants and those seeking insurance cover fill their forms, besides being assigned some work by the staff whenever she was free.

Since she had good knowledge of the system, the staff had no qualms about seeking her help when in trouble. She used to log in using their password.

The manager, who was in his mid-50s, had sound knowledge of banking, but was not so sure when it came to the systems.

She capitalised on his weakness, siphoned cash amounting to crores of rupees using the manager's terminal to transfer fund.

At one point, a customer approached the manager and shouted at him for imposing home loan interest, without making any disbursement.

It so happened that the contract employee could not be reached on that day and some other bank staff, who was familiar with the system, probed into the details.

The fraud was exposed, but the manager is facing charges and is forced to appear in court. Here again, sharing the password proved fatal.

Published on July 31, 2011

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