Serum Institute duped of Rs. 1 cr by fraudsters posing as Adar Poonawala

Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has been duped of Rs. 1 crore by an unidentified cyber fraudster

In a sensational incident, the Pune-based Serum Institute of India (SII) has been duped of Rs. 1 crore by an unidentified cyber fraudster. The fraudster allegedly identified himself as Adar Poonawalla, who is the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Pune-based Serum Institute of India.

A report was filed against the unnamed fraudster based on a complaint by Finance Minister Sagar Kittur, of the Serum Institute of India.

What happened was that the fraudster sent a WhatsApp message to Satish Deshpande, one of the directors of the Serum Institute of India (SII), seeking money transfer to various accounts immediately, identifying himself as Adar Poonawala.

On the other hand, following the instructions of the CEO, he transferred a whopping amount of Rs. 1,011,01,554 to the instructed bank account online, only to find out that Poonawala never sent any such message. The incident unfolded between the afternoons of September 7 and September 8.

cyber fraud

An FIR registered following the incident against unidentified persons: Pratap Mankar, Senior Inspector

Following an investigation, the Pune police said that the fraudster had sent the message pretending to be the CEO. A First Information Report (FIR) was registered following the incident for cheating and offenses under the IT Act against unidentified persons, said Senior Inspector Pratap Mankar of Bund Garden Police Station. The senior inspector further said that those engaged in the fraud are being tracked down by the police.

The senior inspector also informed us that a further probe into the matter is underway.

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The Pune police also informed that the First Information Report (FIR) filed was registered under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 34 (common intention), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and sections under the Information Technology Act. The police mentioned that efforts are being made to apprehend and identify the ones involved in the fraud and the senders of the Whatsapp messages as well as the owners of the bank accounts to which the sum of money was transferred.

The police officials further confirmed that the accused sent the message on Whatsapp and that the accused holds the bank account to which the total amount was transferred. The police are yet to identify and arrest the guilty.

serum institue

The Serum Institute of India is one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world.

The Serum Institute of India is an Indian biotechnology and biopharmaceutical company that has its factory near Pune.

Based in Pune, it is one of the largest manufacturers of vaccines in the world. Among the other vaccines, the company produces the Covishield vaccine, used against the coronavirus. It is worth noting that the Covishield vaccine is the most commonly used in India against the coronavirus.

The Serum Institute of India earned global fame after it launched and manufactured millions of doses of the life-saver Covishield vaccine to combat the coronavirus pandemic in the year 2021.

Notably, Poonawalla earlier this month said that the Serum Institute will try to launch an Omicron-specific vaccine against COVID-19 after six months. The Pune-based Serum Institute of India is currently working on bringing the Omicron-specific vaccine to market with US biotechnology major Novavax.

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The CEO of the Serum Institute said that the original Novovax vaccine, Covovax, covers omicron and there is good data for it. He added that the Serum Institute will try to launch an Omicron-specific vaccine after six months.

Serum Institute CEO Adar Poonawalla also said the research for a vaccine against monkeypox is underway and had reportedly briefed the issue to Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya in a meeting on August 2.

The Serum Institute is a part of the Cyrus Poonawala group and was originally founded by Cyrus Poonawala in 1966.

Notably, The Serum Institute of India also developed India’s first vaccine against cervical cancer-Quadrivalent Human Papillomavirus vaccine (qHPV)-launched by the Central Government on the 2nd of September.

The government said that “CERVAVAC” is an outcome of a partnership between DBT and the Biotechnology Industry Research Assistance Council (BIRAC) with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, supported by the Serum Institute for the indigenous development of quadrivalent vaccines through its partnership program “Grand Challenges India”.

Besides, Adar Poonawalla’s Serum Institute is not the first to be scammed by fraudsters sending messages seeking money after identifying themselves as a known person. Numerous attempts have been reportedly made to trap many senior government officials in this latest scam too.

Based on the numerous incidents unfolding over the past few months, multiple government departments have issued advisories alerting officials about the scam.

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