Unidentified swindlers tried to defraud the Andhra Pradesh government of Rs 112 crore, but alert staff of the State Bank of India's Secretariat branch here smelt a rat and tipped off the authorities concerned, police said.
The revenue department, which handles the Chief Minister's Relief Fund, filed a criminal case with the Tulluru police on Sunday night, based on which the police swung into action to trace the swindlers.
The case will be transferred to the Crime Investigation Department as it involves an inter-state network, police said.
The fraudsters presented three different cheques for Rs 52.65 crore, Rs 39.85 crore and Rs 24.65 crore in Mangaluru, New Delhi and Chennai for clearance.
The cheques were drawn on the SBI, MG Road branch in Vijayawada, and apparently signed by the assistant secretary in the revenue department handling CMRF.
When the cheques came for clearance, the SBI Secretariat branch staff suspected something foul as huge sums were involved and alerted the revenue authorities.
Interestingly, the cash-starved Andhra Pradesh government has stopped all payments, particularly those running into crores of rupees, for many months now.
"The three cheques were found to be fabricated and the signature forged. Cheques with the same numbers were previously issued to some individual beneficiaries for Rs 16,000 each and were duly encashed. The fraudsters fabricated the cheques with the same numbers and presented them in different cities," Tulluru Sub- Divisional Police Officer Y Srinivasa Reddy said.
The SDPO conducted a preliminary investigation in the Secretariat here on Monday and spoke to the officers and staff in the revenue department, CMRF section and also the SBI branch.
Government sources said the Chief Minister asked the Anti-Corruption Bureau to conduct enquiries to find out if possibly the revenue or other staff had a hand in it.
Special teams are being constituted to trace the culprits, based on the bank account numbers and related details, police said.