If an alert from India’s external intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW) is anything to go by, Pakistan-based gangs are running fake lottery rackets through 349 Indian bank accounts.
“Input from R&AW indicates that 349 bank accounts are being used/operated by Indian associates for facilitating Pak-based groups running fake lottery rackets,” an official note accessed by HT said adding that details of 99 users of Indian telephone numbers who are the local collaborators of the Pak groups “are under watch”.
In the country-wide network operated by Indian associates of the Pakistani gangs, at least 133 bank accounts in the State Bank of India, 33 in ICICI bank, 18 in Punjab National Bank and others in Bank of Baroda, Oriental Bank of Commerce, Union Bank of India, Central Bank of India and the United Commercial Bank of India, are being operated by Pak-based gangs. About 139 accounts are of unidentified banks.
“Details of these bank accounts and the telephone numbers are being shared with other intelligence agencies”, a senior government official told HT.
The vast lottery scam came to the notice of the Indian authorities in 2011. But the extent of the misuse of Indian bank accounts came to light in February 2013 when a Pak-operated lottery network was neutralised in Roorkee (Uttarkhand) and the kingpin arrested with 132 ATM cards of various Indian banks and details of 25 bank accounts. Before this, cases of similar arrests had come in from Delhi (January 2012), Jharkhand (June 2012), Gujarat (July 2012) and Punjab (November 2012).
The modus operandi involves a phone call from Pakistan with the information that the would-be victim has won a lottery and to collect the entire amount, a certain amount has to be deposited for collection and processing charges in certain Indian bank accounts. After the amount is deposited, someone withdraws the cash and disappears.
“The amount is then handed over to hawala operators who send it to Pakistan usually routed through Saudi Arabia and UAE. In this entire swindle, Indian operators get about 5% of the proceeds of the crime,” a senior government official tracking the crime told HT.