Odisha Channel Bureau Paradip, Dec 22: In the latest postal fraud, deposits worth nearly Rs 50 lakh have allegedly been swindled by a postmaster of a post office on the outskirts of Paradip town in Odisha’s Jagatsinghpur district. Department of post has instituted a probe into the alleged bungling.A First Information Report (FIR) has been lodged in this connection.Misappropriation of depositors’ money from postal accounts has become the order of the day.At least three incidents with postmasters fleeing with deposits have been reported in the recent past across Jagatsinghpur and neighbouring Kendrapara district.“The latest fraud has been detected in Chaumuhani post office near the port town.A departmental inquiry is going on after a section of account holders lodged allegations of deposits missing from their accounts.Ledgers and relevant records were verified.Preliminary findings have detected prima facie evidence of embezzlement.The postmaster Sishir Kumar Barik is accused of perpetrating the bungling,” said Jagatsinghpur Postal Inspector Basant Kumar Baral. Entry of deposits has not been made in ledgers while passbooks figure the deposited amounts.There is corroborative evidence of money being swindled by the accused postmaster.Exact amount that was swindled is yet to be ascertained.However the amount may go up to Rs 50 lakh as complaints from deceived depositors are still pouring in.The accused postmaster is untraceable.He has been placed under suspension and a complaint has been lodged against him with the local police.The department has pledged to refund the money to the depositors, he said.Defalcation of this nature has tarnished the image of the department.We have resolved to take the unscrupulous elements to task.The depositors would get back their money on production of documentary evidence of deposit made by them, added the official.The unscrupulous postmasters had adopted an ingenious ploy to deceive the depositors.While deposited sum was mentioned in the passbooks, the deposit did not figure in ledger books.The amount was pocketed by the postmasters.The fraud was innovative to say the least as the passbooks carried the postal seal and specimen signature of concerned authorities.The defrauded depositors never smelt foul play.However the ledger accounts found no mention that the deposits were made by the account holders.The depositors used to make the deposit in good faith little knowing the nefarious design of corrupt postal staffs. “My hard-earned money has been embezzled.I have lost trust in the postal department,” said a depositor Babaji Charan Rout. “We still had faith in post office.But corrupt postal staffs have let us down.The department should expeditiously pay us back our deposits,” said another account holder Ramesh Das.Similar frauds were perpetrated in the past in Karilopatana village post office (Kendrapara district), Kujang sub divisional post office and Kudeswar post office (both in Jagatsinghpur district).Ironically the majority of ‘duped’ depositors are yet to be paid back their deposit sums.
December 22, 2014