Thursday, March 4, 2010

FOREIGN OFFICE DUPED?

3-3-2010



investigative news break story
for VAARTHA



HOW FOREIGN OFFICE
AND HOME MINISTRY APPROVED THE
FAKE-INVITATION TO
AN OFFICIAL?


INTERNET FRAUD
OF FOREIGN INVITE


Culpable for a fraud, more how did the Foreign Office 
and home ministry were duped?

The National Commission for Protection of Child Rights (NCPCR) has 
pushed under carpet a cyber fraud, at least until its chairperson and 
members retire in a month, to save them from accountability and 
embarrassment.

It made an upfront payment for hotel and its member travelled to London 
for a so-called UN-sponsored conference only to find there was no 
conference and nobody booked her hotel accommodation. The invite had 
come through Internet email  in April last year and all follow-up 
communication was also through emails.

Interestingly, the Ministry of Women and Child Welfare gave the 
administrative clearance and the External Affairs Ministry accorded the 
political clearance for the commission member Sandhya Bajaj to attend 
the conference, without suspecting any foul play.

Since the Indian High Commission was neither asked to verify bonafides 
of organisers and details of the conference nor was it communicated 
arrival of the commission member for protocol facilities like receiving 
her at the airport and lodging her in the hotel, the lady found herself 
totally lost.

Nobody even bothered to check with any UN office about the so called 
"10th MDGs International Conference" the world body was organising from 
May 26 to 29 after the fraudulent email landed on the desk of the 
commission chairman.

The truth came to light only on May 26 last year when the member rang 
up the chairperson to inform her that she has become victim of a fraud 
as nobody received her or contacted her on arrival and when she checked 
from the Hotel Hyde Park where her room had been booked and where the 
conference was to be held, she was told no such conference is taking 
place there and no room was booked in her name. She returned on May 28, 
a day before the conference was to conclude.

The exchequer lost a little less than Rs 1 lakh. The commission 
promptly ordered a preliminary inquiry by one A K Malhotra, a retired 
PSU officer providing human resource and legal consultancy. He was 
asked to give report within two weeks, but nothing became of the 
exhaustive 52-page report he filed, pointing out a score of 
irregularities. A case was also filed with the cyber cell of Delhi 
Police but no progress as the commission showed no interest.

The chairman and members of the commission are completing their term on 
April 4 and nobody wants the incident probed as it may bring out other 
scandals in the commission's cupboards and put them in the box much 
after they are retired and gone. It was this fear that prompted them 
not to report the incident to the Central Vigilance Commission or the 
Central Bureau of Investigation.

Some Indian appears to be involved in the cyber fraud as the commission 
was told through an email that the organisers will arrange the flight 
tickets for the delegate after the hotel booking is done by him or her 
and gave an ICICI Bank account to deposit the money for the hotel 
booking, claiming it was the account of the hotel's reservation officer 
Ansari Abdulla. A cash amount of Rs 36,400 was deposited in the ICICI 
Bank's New Delhi branch on May 22.

Nobody felt even slightly suspicious despite the fact that the hotels 
never ask for advance money while booking rooms, particularly when the 
request comes from a government organisation. Moreover, at the most the 
hotel will ask for the first day's deposit.

Nor did the commission approach the ICICI Bank immediately to know 
about Ansari and request for details of his accounts and whether he had 
transferred the money received in his account to anybody else. Even 
immediate police complaint was not preferred as the commission wanted 
first to go through preliminary inquiry on its own.

No explanation is also given as to what prompted the commission to buy 
the air tickets when the organisers had promised to provide them. 
During the inquiry, the staff said the member, Sandhya Bajaj, had 
ordered purchase of the tickets after money was released to her through 
a cheque.

The inquiry also revealed that the staff showed to Sandhya Bajaj an 
email sent by one Dr Suresh Kumar to her on May 11, a fortnight before 
her travel, that "this UN conference is fraud," but she ordered to 
ignore it and go ahead with programme. When confronted, she denied any 
such email and said Dr Suresh Kumar had a telephonic conversation only 
to request her for arranging his hotel accommodation for the conference 
he was also attending.

Sandhya Bajaj and the staff were engaged in running battle in a bid to 
put blame on each other for every irregularity. She accused the staff 
of not showing her all emails while the staff showed files to claim she 
returns papers without signing and so they cannot prove her consent on 
every step they took under her orders. 

Had the commission asked the sender of the email to send a formal 
invitation through post with details loke brochure on the conference, 
details of the participants, the delegate fee, etc., the fraud would 
have been nipped in the bud. Nor did anybody think it fit to intimate 
the Indian High Commission about the event in which the commission is 
participating.

###

2 comments:

drbala said...

sir,if this is how our instituons work..i think we can never reach..to an level of agressive foreign policy moves carried out by china in extending its power...

shaan said...

ha ha ha! a bunch of idiots. I think somebody has done it wantonly to humiliate them.

"what prompted the commission to buy
the air tickets "
Who wants to lose a free sightseeing tour to the UK?

What would have happened if some terrorists had kidnapped her claiming to be the organizers? They should think this before accepting the next invite.