Ex-banker cheated of lakhs in phishing
9 Aug 2008, 0329 hrs IST, K Praveen Kumar,TNN

CHENNAI: After hooking the young and the computer- savvy, phishers have struck a senior citizen in the city. N V Srinivasan, a 72-year-old retired bank manager from KK Nagar, saw his lifetime savings of Rs 21 lakh vanish after he inadvertently gave away details of his bank account by clicking open a phishing mail sent in the name of Punjab National Bank. Srinivasan, who was leading a quiet retired life got a mail a few days ago, purportedly from the security department of Punjab National Bank, asking him to update his personal details by clicking a link given in the mail, to make the bank account more secure.

"The mail said that the bank was stepping up vigil against online frauds and told the account holder that he could continue using his account even during the updation process without affecting transactions. Believing this, Srinivasan clicked on the link in the mail and provided his personal information including the bank account number," a CCB official told The Times of India.

Srinivasan found his net banking facility blocked moments after he replied to the mail, but he didn't realise the enormity of the fraud. "He then sent a mail to Neelam Singh, a person named as the signatory and security head of the Punjab National Bank in the phishing mail. When he did not get a reply to the mail, Srinivasan went and checked with the bank, only to find that Rs 21 lakh had been withdrawn from his account," the official said.

Preliminary investigation by the CCB bank fraud wing and the cyber crime cell revealed that a woman had withdrawn the amount from an ICICI bank branch in Mumbai. "When we made inquiries, the bank authorities said that the woman had been making repeated inquiries about remittance of cash to a particular account saying that she was expecting the money from an urgent property transaction. The money was withdrawn from the account soon after it was credited," the official added.

Investigators are now trying to trace the internet protocol number from which the mail to Srinivasan was sent. "We don't think the mail originated from Mumbai. We are trying to locate the woman who had collected the amount. We will crack the network as soon as we locate the woman," the official said.

The official underscored the need for better awareness among people transacting through net banking. "People getting such mails should immediately check with the bank concerned. Before performing any banking transactions through the net, follow the instructions provided by the banks and look for security emblems and marks on the home page of the bank," the official said.

People and institutions trading in mail addresses and other data are proving to be a headache for banks and security agencies. "These institutions are paid Rs 10 per mail address. These are a readymade pool for fraudsters to work on. Make sure that you do not give out your mail addresses to people and institutions that are unknown to you," the official said