Insurance
How Insurance Mis-selling Defrauds Senior Citizens
Senior citizens with comfortable savings are being systematically targeted and defrauded by insurance companies. What is worse, this organised loot is done by relationship managers of the best banks and their insurance associates, with the top management turning a blind eye to the fraud. The mis-selling is almost like a template. The bank relationship manager convinces the senior citizen to buy a bunch of policies—often as a gift for children and grandchildren. These policies are portrayed as fixed deposits with insurance benefits but are, in fact, policies requiring payment of hefty annual premiums. Consequently, the annual premiums range from  Rs 1 lakh to Rs5 lakh, which the seniors are unable to pay and the policies lapse.
 
When they realise that they have been duped, sometimes a year later, they begin to demand their money back. At this time, the insurance company officials collude with the bankers to ensure that complaints are rejected on the grounds that free look-in period is over and their signature on the form confirms assent. It is true that seniors have signed on the dotted line, but it was only because of an implicit trust in their bankers. Having trusted the bank with their life savings, they find it impossible to suspect that their sweet-talking relationship manager is deliberately and systematically cheating them. In most cases, the policy is explained to them in detail with plenty of calculations, but the manager is careful not to leave any paper behind. Often, even after they notice that the policy document is different from the promises made, the glib-talking relationship manager says he will sort things out with the insurance company which is an affiliate. Consider these three cases that Moneylife Foundation came across in just the past six weeks. 
 
Mr Raghunathan (name changed), 80, was a retired senior executive of Tata Exports. His ‘wealth manager’ sold him a dozen insurance policies. The beneficiaries were his sons Durgesh (two polices of Rs3 lakh and Rs6 lakh) and Kapil (five polices of Rs2 lakh, Rs3 lakh, Rs2.4 lakh and Rs5 lakh) and his granddaughter Supriya (five policies of Rs2 lakh, Rs4 lakh, Rs2.4 lakh, Rs10 lakh and Rs20 lakh). The total: a whopping Rs62.8 lakh. The wealth manager had become bolder when the last two were signed and the amounts were significantly larger. The total premium payable on these policies per year was impossibly high and not even feasible. In fact, his savings over a lifetime were decimated. 
 
Interestingly, several policies were allowed to lapse, even after the premium had been paid for three years, and new ones opened, to log in fresh business to meet the next year’s target of the wealth manager. The bank is aware that the same wealth manager had cheated four others, including an 86-year old, whose signatures were forged, and Mr Raghunathan’s own brother, in whose name he created an email ID that was used for official communication. A doctor was sold a ‘single premium policy’ of Rs70 lakh, only to find that she needed to make five more payments of the same amount. The wealth manager’s actions are under investigation; but the bank is unlikely to refund the premiums unless there is pressure. Mr Raghunathan got his money back after Moneylife took up the case with the managing director of the bank. But what happens to the others? 
 
A 78-year-old retired chairman of the income-tax settlement commission was the victim of this fraud. The relationship manager of a leading private bank sold a ‘guaranteed return’ product, where a ‘deposit’ of Rs1 lakh, would fetch a maturity value of Rs1.42 lakh at the end of three years. One person in the family would get a Rs3 lakh life cover. Three company officials reiterated and confirmed the terms. He was persuaded to part with his cheque and told that the policy document would be sent shortly. The document he received was a 10-year policy in his daughter’s name with an annual premium of over Rs95,000. Shockingly, multiple people in the insurance company continued to fool him saying that the document was an interim paper and the ‘final policy document’ would have the correct terms. All this was in telephone conversations. When he, finally, filed a written complaint, he was given the brush off saying his consent was obtained and he had not rejected the policy during the free look-in  period. He got a full refund after Moneylife wrote to the group chairman. But this is a clear case of fraud with the active connivance of company officials. 
 
The third case, of Abhay Kulkarni of Dadar (name changed), is the worst, with no solution. Mr Kulkarni’s NRI son wrote to us in anguish that his 70 plus father, retired from Air India, has squandered his entire retirement fund of Rs60 lakh on insurance policies sold as single-premium ones with high returns. The policies lapsed when he discovered that he needed to pay annual premiums for five years or more. A new set of agents is now persuading him to part with more money by offering to recover the money. The policies were all booked with blue-chip names in the financial world. We couldn’t help him because Mr Kulkarni, unlike his son, continues to believe the agents will help him recover the money. He is also driving himself into a bigger hole by borrowing from relatives to buy new policies.
 
In cases like these, consumers end up running from pillar to post with no end in sight. Banks and insurers are fully aware that their victims have no will or resources to drag them to court. This makes them very easy targets. But one consumer did go to court in a case relating to SBI Life Insurance. It led to a stinging judgement by the Allahabad High Court. The Court even asked the Serious Frauds Investigation Office (SFIO) of the ministry of corporate affairs and the insurance regulator to examine the unlawful gains made by the insurer by cheating consumers. How did the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India (IRDAI) react to this? By setting up a committee “To recommend measures for curbing mis-selling and rationalising distribution incentives in financial products.” The report was submitted in August 2015, but nothing has happened on the ground. 
 
The insurance sold to all the people mentioned above was clearly unsuitable and fraudulent; but since our financial regulators have little interest in enforcing their regulations, powerful insurers get away. Victims of mis-selling also receive no help from the banking ombudsman or the insurance ombudsman. In most cases, a complaint is dismissed primarily on one query alone—Did you sign the proposal form? If the answer is yes, the charge of mis-selling is rejected outright, though there is a clear pattern of identical complaints. 
 
Check newspaper columns that publish answers to readers’ queries on insurance. If a victim seeks remedies to mis-selling, the standard answer is: You need to “conclusively prove that you were mis-sold insurance. Unfortunately, your position is considerably weakened because you signed a proposal form and documents that do not mention the high returns” or failed to complain in the free look-in period. Every insurer knows this is a deliberate trap. The relationship manager ensures that the customer does not even receive policy documents until the free look-in period has ended.
 
The Reserve Bank of India’s (RBI) consumer charter, if given teeth—in the form of hefty compensation and penalty for such deliberate mis-selling of third-party products—would stop such abusive practices. Instead, RBI is watching silently as gross abuse of senior citizens’ savings continues unabated. IRDAI has taken a cue from RBI and seems set to decimate consumer protection. A draft of IRDAI (Protection of Policyholders’ Interests) Regulations, 2017, which is open for public comment, has reportedly removed provisions that protected consumers from unfair market conduct, mis-representation of policy benefits, unfair terms of contract, conflict of interest of advisors, right to fair disclosure and suitable advice.
 
Isn’t it time that IRDAI (and the insurance ombudsman) wakes up to this standard template of mis-selling and orders refunds in all such cases? If multiple financial regulators fail the ordinary consumer, it is time we demand a unified financial regulator and the single-point grievance redress that cuts across regulatory turfs of IRDAI, RBI and others.

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COMMENTS

RAVI SINGH

3 months ago

I am also a victim of such fraud.
i had asked for single premium policies of 3lakh and 2 policies of 1 lakh each ( Total 5 lakhs) but when i received the policy document, it turned out to be an endowment policy where i have to pay premium of 5 lakhs for 10 years, i wish that moneylife take up my case.
THANKS

REPLY

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to RAVI SINGH 3 months ago

I think it is time for some one, or all of us writing to The Finance Minister, Prime Minister of India, and seek redressal of our grievances against the Life Insurance Companies, their connections in the Banks, who peep in to our account, and approach the prospective customers.
It shall be certainly better, if we all appeal Padma Shri Ms. Sucheta Dalal to lead the group.
Through this mail, I request Ms. Sucheta Dalal to kindly approach the Honourable Finance Minister, Honourable Prime Minister and others, which Ms. Dalal knows better.

Heathwood Johnson

3 months ago

Its a typical case of "fence eating the grass". As Senior Citizens are wits are no more at their best and then to be defrauded by Banks with in which we may have had accounts





several decades shakes one's faith in humanity. One can only hope that authorities concerned will come out with suitable solutions --- in our life time !!!
Perhaps this is a fit scandal for our TV Media to highlight for common good.

REPLY

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to Heathwood Johnson 3 months ago

It is of very great importance. Government of India has permitted 49% FDI. Secondly, the Sr. citizens have invested often their entire life savings and available money. Kindly go through the write up by Ms. Sucheta Dalal wherein she has quoted a case of Rs. 70 lacs being invested by a Sr. Citizen in Single Premium policy, which has gone to nuts. The Government should also take a note of a very good article by Ms. Sucheta Dalal, who is a known personality. IRDAI, Ministry of Finance should take note of the contents of the article.

Sucheta Dalal

4 months ago

If misselling by banks worries you, please sign and share this petition against it : https://tinyurl.com/k45z4n5

Vijay Dadoo

4 months ago

Ms Sucheta Dallas should write to Prime Minister, Finance Minister, Chairman CBDT, Chartered Accountant's All India Body, and the sufferers like me, my wife should also write to these authorities directly, in a bid to find solution to these misleading acts of InInsurance Companies, and Banks, who, on account of access to our accounts pass on the information of prospective buyers of policies.
As such these Insurance Companies do not own any responsibilities.

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Vijay Dadoo 4 months ago

Sir. you can start by signing and sharing this petition. If the PM has to be convinced there are so many sufferers then lets at least have 100,000 signatures here. If simple letters made a difference we would be a great country. We have sent dozens of letters before starting this effort. Even here we have spoken to many MPs.
Click this : https://tinyurl.com/k45z4n5

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 months ago

We, myself and my wife Prabha Dadoo wholeheartedly support you. Kindly go ahead.
I request all the Sr. Citizens, or their kind, who have suffered through these policies to support the efforts and initiatives of Ms. Sucheta Dalal. All the sufferers can also directly write to P.M. Office, Finance Minister Office, CBDT and IRDAI.

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 months ago

No. It is not possible for me/us to collect One Lac Signatures. But, does it require One Lac Signatures to make your problems known to Government? On our part, We, my wife and myself have written to Chairman CBDT, the mail has been acknowledged, and we do hope to get a reply.
We have learnt that P.M.Office takes action on every letter/mail sent. We are not a known face, but you are. Therefore, we had requested you to kindly take up the issue with P.M.Office, Finance Minister Office, Chairman CBDT, IRDAI and others. It may be immense help if we can learn how many policies (Specially Single Premium Policy, which is referred by you in your article are issued by the 24 Life Insurance Companies may be through CIC or RTI or through the INsurance Companies directly. We shall co operate in any manner that you suggest.

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Vijay Dadoo 4 months ago

Please read again. You were asked to SIGN the petition, not collect one lakh signatures -- I have done that already. You may have noticed that all this effort is to help as best as we can.

Gurudutt Mundkur

4 months ago

Nobody can fool you unless you allow them to do so.

REPLY

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Gurudutt Mundkur 4 months ago

Lets pray that it does not happen to someone close to you.

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to Sucheta Dalal 4 months ago

Only the one who wears, knows where the shoes pinches. Therefore, Mr. Mundkar, kindly check up with your well placed friends and relatives, and find out if any one Sr. citizen has taken up a policy, and then find out present position and then react. Nothing Personal please.

Vijay Dadoo

4 months ago

Insurance , specially Life insurance business is all fraud. The agents get huge first payout and also every year thereafter, therefore are always pursuing the prospective customers, showing that there is a huge earning, which will take care of their old age requirements. Nothing is in black and white, no details about receivables against time in the policy. As a common person, no body is able to read the fine print, and the things come to knowledge much later, and the Insurance Companies play the Card of having given the customer 15 days free look period, and the proposal form having been signed by the person.
IRDAI does not take care of these aspects of the policies. Policies are being sold as Diamond, Platinum, Gold etc, just fooling people.
Insurance ombudsman also never takes care of the Sr. citizens trapped in the trap laid out by the Insurance Companies.
With no other source of income, the Sr. citizens get into forever trouble

sundararaman gopalakrishnan

4 months ago

Moneylife is doing yeomen service in highlighting the problems faced by common citizens due to mis selling by relationship managers and agents.
Better to stay away from these.
Bank FD looks a great option compared to these!!

jaideep shirali

4 months ago

The insurance sellers need to be penalised for mis selling. But, as an advisor, I keep seeing the same depressing attitude towards investments, especially insurance. Just 3 questions, "Do I get 80 C benefit?", "What is the amount ?" and "Where do I sign?" is what I am told by clients, many of whom do not bother to understand the product, because they "do not have the time". Please ask questions, it is your money at stake.

REPLY

Vijay Dadoo

In Reply to jaideep shirali 4 months ago

That is one part of the mis selling. There are plenty of other side effects as rightly pointed out by Ms. Dalal. Do quote some cases known to you

David M. Thangliana

4 months ago

Great article. Hope it wakes up not only the concerned authorities, but also those being targetted for duping.

SRINIVAS SHENOY

4 months ago

In my case mis-selling of an Insurance Policy to me took place prior to my retirement. I was requested by one of my bank colleague to purchase a policy through him, as a favour in which my bank had a stake. This has resulted in me not canvassing the policy to any third party, lest the same fate befalls them.

Suketu Shah

4 months ago

Superb article.

Alok Asthana

4 months ago

Well brought out. Thanks.

Nitin Balchandani

4 months ago

Dear Team,
Request you to please watch https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=8BhwmU6BluI and more such videos on Insurance Angels at You Tube.... I filed a PIL in Rajasthan High Court and just 1 day prior to the admission hearing I was sent to judicial custody. This is India

Gurudutt Mundkur

4 months ago

All the persons who cases you have mentioned are educated persons who have held important positions in the companies they worked in. It is unfortunate that they have fallen for these disguised ponzi schemes. The world is always looking for a sucker. The "sales agents/executives" have found them. As the proverb goes, a fool and his money are soon parted.

REPLY

Nitin Balchandani

In Reply to Gurudutt Mundkur 4 months ago

Hi Guru Dutt,
Before we call these people fool we need to understand that they have invested their money through a bank; the dealing is done in a bank branch and the bank manager or bank employees are also involved...They have invested through a cheque drawn in name of a brand name...They have not given cheque to a layman and they do not have any reason to believe that they are investing in a scheme which has a forfeiture clause attached to it...Still if you believe they are foolish then I have a reason to believe otherwise

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

In Reply to Gurudutt Mundkur 4 months ago

I am a double graduate in engineering and financially savy. I have been taken multiple times for a ride by the personal Bankers of HDFC Oberoi bank. Until last time. Blame it on the application of Behavioral Economics and cognitive neuroscience.

It must be kept in mind that the average man likes to belive that men are generally good and honest

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan 4 months ago

Absolutely. Moreover, we expect to trust bankers -- if we do not trust our bankers, especially when they claim to offer you advice that will enhance your income, then one must not even keep one's hard earned saving in banks. Some humility and empathy in such situations is a good thing.

Nitin Balchandani

In Reply to Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan 4 months ago

Truly said Pradeep...Please do visit our You Tube channel Insurance Angels and you will realise how these banks are using their goodwill to trap our farmers, widows, senior citizens and BPL families. But our regulators are sleeping and I have reported more than 200 instances of how fraudulent means were used to trap innocent clients and instead I was sent to judicial custody to have uploaded these cases and marking these cases to FMO, PMO and RBI and IRDAI...We are living in India and will sleep till the time these companies run away from India taking our wealth with them... Nobody is bothered and Bharat is sleeping

Sucheta Dalal

In Reply to Nitin Balchandani 4 months ago

Mr Balchandani -- aren't you being a little too aggressive in hard selling your Insurance Angels channel on our platform? Please desist.

Nitin Balchandani

In Reply to Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan 4 months ago

Truly said Pradeep...Please do visit our You Tube channel Insurance Angels and you will realise how these banks are using their goodwill to trap our farmers, widows, senior citizens and BPL families. But our regulators are sleeping and I have reported more than 200 instances of how fraudulent means were used to trap innocent clients and instead I was sent to judicial custody to have uploaded these cases and marking these cases to FMO, PMO and RBI and IRDAI...We are living in India and will sleep till the time these companies run away from India taking our wealth with them... Nobody is bothered and Bharat is sleeping

Nitin Balchandani

In Reply to Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan 4 months ago

Truly said Pradeep...Please do visit our You Tube channel Insurance Angels and you will realise how these banks are using their goodwill to trap our farmers, widows, senior citizens and BPL families. But our regulators are sleeping and I have reported more than 200 instances of how fraudulent means were used to trap innocent clients and instead I was sent to judicial custody to have uploaded these cases and marking these cases to FMO, PMO and RBI and IRDAI...We are living in India and will sleep till the time these companies run away from India taking our wealth with them... Nobody is bothered and Bharat is sleeping

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

In Reply to Gurudutt Mundkur 4 months ago

I am a double graduate in engineering and financially savy. I have been taken multiple times for a ride by the personal Bankers of HDFC Oberoi bank. Until last time. Blame it on the application of Behavioral Economics and cognitive neuroscience.

It must be kept in mind that the average man likes to belive that men are generally good and honest

Dr. Ketan Jinwala

4 months ago

Very bad. Expose the name of bank & bank manager name to public.

Official Involved in Bush-Era Purge of Gay Employees Now in Trump Administration

It was one of the uglier scandals of the Bush administration: Top officials at an agency dedicated to protecting whistleblowers launched a campaign against their own employees based on suspected sexual orientation, according to an inspector general report.

 

Staffers were abruptly reassigned from Washington, D.C., to a new office 500 miles away in Detroit in what the head of the office reportedly described as an effort to "ship [them] out." Staffers who refused were fired.

 

Crude anti-gay emails were found in the agency chief's account.

 

Now one of the major players in the scandal has a new assignment: He works in the Trump administration.

 

In December, James Renne was appointed to the Trump "landing team" at the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, as part of the transition effort between the election and the inauguration. He was then hired Jan. 30 in a senior role at the Department of Agriculture, though his exact job duties are not clear.

 

Renne was part of the wave of early political appointees on so-called "beachhead teams," whose role is to lay the groundwork for the new administration's policies. (We published details on hundreds of beachhead hires, obtained through public records requests.)

 

In the Bush administration, Renne was hired in 2004 as deputy special counsel of the Office of Special Counsel, the small federal agency that is supposed to protect employees across the government from retaliation for whistleblowing. The tenures of Renne and his boss, Special Counsel Scott Bloch, were almost immediately mired in controversy after career employees said they were improperly fired. Language stating that job discrimination protections extend to sexual orientation also disappeared from the agency website.

 

A little-noticed inspector general report, released in 2013, depicts Renne as a central player in the efforts. Bloch and Renne, it found, hatched the plan to abruptly open a new "Midwest Field Office" in Detroit and reassign career staff there. Employees who declined to move lost their jobs.

 

The report found that the employees were targeted for no legitimate reason, pointing to "facts which reflect that Mr. Bloch and Mr. Renne may have been motivated in their actions by a negative personal attitude toward homosexuality and individuals whose orientation is homosexual."

 

One evening shortly after he was hired in 2004, Renne took the lead in removing the language from the agency's website about how job protections cover sexual orientation, the report says.

 

From the report: "Mr. Renne was depicted as intently searching the OSC website with the assistance of a senior career official to identify passages which interpreted [the nondiscrimination law] as extending protection to employees on the basis of their sexual orientation. According to this account, Mr. Renne demanded that OSC's information technology manager remove these materials from the website immediately."

 

That change was later the subject of congressional hearings.

 

Renne did not respond to requests for comment. The Department of Agriculture, which hired him, declined to comment.

 

The scandal at the Office of Special Counsel dragged on for years, spawning congressional and criminal investigations.

 

In a formal complaint filed at the time, the employees who were reassigned to Detroit pointed to a "Concerned Catholic Attorneys" letter Renne had signed in 2000 that is a broadside against a range of gay rights efforts. It warns that the "homosexual lobby's power has grown exponentially."

 

The inspector general report found that Renne played a central role in the plan to open a Detroit office, noting that "the reorganization was formulated by Mr. Bloch and Mr. Renne very early in their tenure." An outside consultant they hired to help with the plan told investigators that "it appeared that Mr. Bloch may have been heavily influenced by Mr. Renne."

 

That consultant, retired Lt. Gen. Richard Trefry, told investigators:

Mr. Bloch indicated to General Trefry that there was a sizeable group of homosexuals employed by OSC, which had developed during the years prior to his taking office, that he "had a license" to get rid of homosexual employees, and that he intended to "ship them out."

 

The report continues:

Further, in the portions of Mr. Bloch's official e-mail account that were available to the investigative team, there were crude and vulgar messages containing anti-homosexual themes that appeared to have been forwarded from his personal email....Similarly, Mr. Bloch's public media references to [his predecessor as Special Counsel, Elaine] Kaplan contained repeated, negatively-phrased assertions regarding her sexual orientation. For example, in interviews he granted during 2007, Mr. Bloch described her as a "lesbian activist," a "public lesbian," a "well-known gay activist", and similar depictions.

 

Now in private practice, Bloch told ProPublica the report is "filled with untruth, outright falsehoods, and innuendo." When the report was released, Bloch denied that he ever talked about targeting gay employees.

 

The inspector general report says it was based on interviews with more than 60 people and examination of over 100,000 emails.

 

The affected employees ultimately came to a settlement with the government. The terms were not released.

 

During the investigation into his tenure, Bloch's home and office were raided by the FBI and he ultimately pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge arising from his hiring the company Geeks on Call to do a "seven-level wipe" on his government computers. Years later, Bloch later unsuccessfully sued the government over his firing.

 

There's little public record of what Renne has been doing since his time working with Bloch. The Trump landing team announcement identified him as working for Renne Law. A fellow member of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence landing team said that Renne had worked at the ODNI inspector general office. And Bloch said he also heard that Renne had gotten a job in the intelligence community after their work together. An ODNI spokesman declined to comment.

 

ProPublica is a Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative newsroom. Sign up for their newsletter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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ED summons Himachal CM for questioning in money laundering case
New Delhi, The Enforcement Directorate has again summoned Himachal Pradesh Chief Minister Virbhadra Singh for questioning in a money laundering case registered against him, his wife and others, an official said on Monday.
 
The Congress leader has been asked to appear before the Investigating Officer on April 13 to get recorded his statement under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA). 
 
The agency had summoned him earlier too but he had then excused himself by referring to his official commitments. It has already questioned his wife Pratibha Singh and son Vikramaditya Singh.
 
In the first week of April, the Enforcement Directorate had attached Virbhadra Singh's Delhi farmhouse worth Rs 27.29 crore in the case. 
 
The agency's move came after the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) filed a charge sheet against Virbhadra Singh and others last month for allegedly amassing assets worth Rs 6.03 crore. 
 
A court here on Monday fixed April 24 to consider the CBI charge sheet.
 
The ED had filed a criminal case under the PMLA against Virbhadra Singh, his wife Pratibha, Life Insurance Corporation agent Anand Chauhan, his associate Chunni Lal, Joginder Singh Ghalta, Prem Raj, Lawan Kumar Roach, Vakamullah Chandrashekhara and Ram Prakash Bhatia in 2015 following the CBI's FIR dated September 23, 2015. 
 
The case was registered after a preliminary inquiry found that Virbhadra Singh, as Union Minister from 2009 to 2012, allegedly accumulated assets worth Rs 6.03 crore, which were disproportionate to his known sources of income.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

Heathwood Johnson

3 months ago

I feel Senior Citizens should approach TV media to expose the scam. This would warn vulnerable victims and also make concerned authorities take suitable action to restore
the capital of those who have been defrauded. NDTV or Republic TV may be ready to help.

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