Some unknown scammers have cheated the vaccine giant Serum Institute of India (SII) of at least Rs 1 crore by sending fraudulent messages in the name of its CEO Adar Poonawalla, an official of Bund Garden Police Station said here on Saturday.
The incident occurred earlier this week and following a complaint, the police had lodged a First Information Report, officials told media.
As per the police complaint, Satish Deshpande, an SII director in the finance department, received a WhatsApp message purportedly from a person claiming to be Adar Poonawalla and seeking the money transfers in installments to certain bank accounts.
Misled by the messages from “the CEO”, the company officials effected online transfers of around Rs 1.01 crore, only to belatedly realise that they had been gypped as Poonawalla never sent such messages or demanded the money.
An FIR has been registered for cheating and offence under the sections of IT Act against unidentified persons in Bund Garden police station, Pune police officials said.
The SII shot into global fame in 2021 after it launched and manufactured millions of doses of the life-saver Covishield vaccines to combat the coronavirus pandemic worldwide.
Earlier this month, Poonawalla had said that SII will try to launch Omicron-specific vaccine for COVID-19 after six months. The Pune-based Serum Institute is working with US biotechnology major Novavax to bring the Omicron-specific vaccine.
“The original Novovax vaccine Covovax covers omicron and there is good data for it. We will try to launch Omicron-specific vaccine after six months,” he said.
Poonawalla also said the research for a vaccine against monkeypox is underway and had reportedly briefed the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on the issue in a meeting on August 2.