Phishing gang dupes Preneet of Rs 23 lakh

PATIALA: The Patiala police have busted a gang allegedly involved in duping several Members of Parliament, MLAs and others.

Phishing gang dupes Preneet of Rs 23 lakh

Patiala MP Preneet Kaur. File photo

kavishakohli@gmail.com

Aman Sood

Tribune News Service

Patiala, August 7

The Patiala police have busted a gang allegedly involved in duping several Members of Parliament, MLAs and others. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh’s wife and Patiala MP Preneet Kaur was recently duped of Rs 23 lakh by this Jharkhand-based gang.

Kaur received a call while being in Delhi to attend Parliament session last week. The caller claimed to be a manager of the State Bank of India. “Between July 26 and 29, he called up the MP saying he needed her bank account details to credit her Lok Sabha salary. He asked for her bank account number, ATM pin, CVC number and even the OTP that she had received on the phone,” the police said.

As soon as Kaur gave him all those details, she received an SMS saying Rs 23 lakh had been withdrawn from her SBI account in Patiala. She informed the police and an FIR under Section 420 of the IPC and the Information and Technology Act was registered at the Civil Lines Police station on July 29.

Patiala SSP Mandeep Singh Sidhu said the gang was operated by Attaul Ansari of Jamtara in Jharkhand. “We have arrested him and a major portion of the money has been recovered,” he said. “I cannot comment on the case any further. We are yet to grill the main accused,” he said.

Sources suggest that hundreds of villages in Jharkhand have emerged as a phishing hub. Jamtara police record suggests that police teams from 15 states have visited this area over 35 times in the past four years and arrested over 50 persons.

Police officials say it all started in 2011 when some youths learnt the trick of recharging phones without actually paying for it. A couple of years later, reports of siphoning of money from bank accounts of unsuspecting ATM cardholders started pouring in.

“Some persons have also been arrested from Punjab in connection with duping of Preneet Kaur. These persons were involved in helping the gang in spending the ill-gotten money,” sources said.

Cyber experts say hundreds of jobless youths are involved in such crimes. They acquire a number of SIM cards on fake identities and then use these to fool unsuspecting ATM cardholders. “A deduction from an ATM card first goes to an e-wallet and immediately to five-six other e-wallets, and finally into a bank account, from where it is instantly withdrawn via ATMs,” they say.

Ansari and his gang members would transfer the ill-gotten money into e-wallets of their associates residing across the country, so as to make investigation difficult. Many such persons would then pay bills of consumers by accepting cash and offering discounts. In this manner, they would pocket the cash, thereby ending the online transaction trail. 

The Modus operandi

  • Gang members call up unsuspecting ATM cardholders posing as bank officials and on various pretexts ask for credit/debit card number, ATM PIN, login ID, CVV number, expiry date, one-time password etc.
  • On getting these details, money from the victim’s account is transferred into e-wallets created using fake documents; most of their operations are conducted from Jamtara in Jharkhand

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