Musings: Travails of a bank fraud whistle-blower

Musings: Travails of a bank fraud whistle-blower

By Thomas Kannamala


Anything connected with Amitabh Bachchan is news. So here is an incident where I tried to get him to play a small role for me in 2018. This was to recover Rs.14,390/- that Just Dial Limited (JDL) had fraudulently siphoned off from our Harrington Post news weekly current account in the Oriental Bank of Commerce, Chennai. 

The bank had made 63 payments from our account to JDL over 17 months from November 2016. When I came to know of it in January 2018, I brought this to the notice of the bank, police, RBI, CBI, Bank Ombudsman and finance ministry. But nothing happened.

Then I posted a message to Bachchan on his official FaceBook page, that it was a slur on his reputation to continue as the brand ambassador of Just Dial Limited. I cautioned him that this company might be doing similar fraud with other accounts too and affect his credibility. I guess it worked. I found a small endorsement below my message - `please attend to this'. Promptly the JDL reimbursed the money.  A synopsis of this well-documented bank fraud is given below.


I DETECTED a major fraud in the Chennai Kilpauk branch of the Oriental Bank of Commerce on January 30, 2018.

The nature of fraud included misappropriation of funds, breach of trust, negligence, diversion of funds based on fake documents, and causing financial loss to a customer and wrongful gain to a third party – Just Dial India Limited.

I took a special interest in this case because this particular a/c was in the name of Harrington Post News Weekly, and I happened to be its editor, and the only authorised signatory to it.

Fraud: Between November 2016 & March 2018, the Oriental Bank of Commerce (OBC), Kilpauk branch released 63 payments from the current a/c (10651010010670) of the Harrington Post News Weekly to Just Dial Limited (JDL). This was done based on some old, time-barred and cancelled documents that I signed in August 2013. (In July 2014, the bank and Just Dial had, in writing, informed me that the documents were cancelled.)

I immediately brought this matter to the notice of the bank, but nothing happened till March 2018, and the bank went on releasing money to the JDL. Meantime, because of the fraudulent release of funds, my current account balance went down below Rs.10,000.

Thereafter, the bank began reducing a fine amount too for not maintaining minimum balance!

As all the institutional routes failed to address my problem, I posted a message to actor Amitabh Bachchan - the brand ambassador of Just Dial Limited at that time, through his Official Facebook page.

The next day, I found a crisp message addressed to nobody beneath my Facebook posting: 

“Please attend to this.”

I am not stupid enough to believe that a super busy person like Bachchan had gone through my records and wrote this endorsements. But that endorsement, from whichever quarter it had come, did the trick.

The Just Dial promptly returned the money!

Besides the money part of it, I was curious to know how the system worked when a fraud case was reported to authorities by a common citizen.

So I wrote to the bank manager on March 19, 2018, requesting him to lodge a criminal case against the JDL for their clandestine withdrawal of money using invalid and tampered documents. I knew there would be vicarious culpability on the bank as well, and he would do nothing.

Later I sent emails to the bank’s GM (Customer Service), Nodal officer, Ombudsman,  [email protected], [email protected], and [email protected]. besides several agencies of the Finance Ministry including the RBI.

I have been expecting a note of appreciation from any one of these agencies for having taken the trouble to bring such a major fraud to their notice, with pucca documentary evidence. I thought at least they would inform me (a) why this was not a fit case for criminal prosecution or  (b) the agency concerned to deal with such cases. The bank manager said the OBC bank legal department was examining the case.

The Nodal Officer said the `complaint is closed’ after the bank manager had spoken to the account holder ie me!

The Ombudsman said it did not come under his purview, and I could seek redresses through `other forums’.

So I thought the best `other forum’ was Amitabh Bachchan, and It worked. The full story is available at OBC

                       Article on Amitabh Bachchan at

Posted 29th October 2020 by Thomas Kannamala
Labels: Amitabh Bhachchan News views