HIS CERTAINLY isn’t John Nash’s Beautiful Mind, but police officers investigating the fraudulent use of credit cards by Akshay Kumar Khemani (23), who cheated no less than 26 persons by using their credit cards to book airline tickets worth over Rs 30 lakh within a space of eight months, have nonetheless been fascinated by the working of his mind.
“He is highly intelligent, well educated and suave, and it is very difficult to pin him down,” says CSP Arvind Tiwari, who arrested Khemani and booked him under Sections 420 of IPC and Sections 66 and 70 of IT Act, and is also investigating the case.
Akshay has a way with numbers - a gift of God that allows him to instantly memorise the 16 digits of any credit card, along with the expiry date, and of course the name of the person. “On one occasion, he memorised the card number and other details of a fellow passenger while traveling in a plane, and he only had a cursory glance at it,” adds Tiwari.
Of course, in certain cases, things were made very easy for him when trusting persons whom he later cheated handed the credit card to him to book train or airline tickets on their behalf. Many of his victims are ONGC officials, and he had easy access to them as his father is an ONGC contractor, and apparently he used his father’s connection to get into the good books of the officials, use his charm and guile to part with their credit cards, and the rest was easy game for him.
Police officers also noticed that he did not use one particular credit card indiscriminately while booking tickets. Very cleverly he rotated the credit card he used to book tickets so that the amount remained well within the credit limit. What is more, he used different user IDs, different fake names and addresses while booking tickets with different airlines.
For example, to make online bookings in Indian Airlines the accused used the user Id rajesh 2k3, provided a fake name and address - Rajesh Agrawal, resident of Maninagar (Ahmedabad) and provided the email address , , . He used a different one while booking tickets for Air Deccan and Jet Airways.
In the past eight months, Akshay has travelled like a maniac from one part of the country to another, rarely staying at one place for more than a couple of days. If today he were in Jorhat, tomorrow he would be in Kolkata and then in Chennai the following day. In the last 240 days he booked 187 tickets, mostly for himself, but some for his relatives also.
And in between his numerous flights, he even managed to so impress an airline hostess, who lives in Lucknow, that she became his girl friend.As the police get down to unravel the trail of deceit spun by Akshay, they have to co-relate the data from the airlines, his various user-IDs and the banks issuing the credit cards. Says CSP Tiwari, “In many cases, those cheated might not be even aware of the fraud, or may still be embroiled in a fight with the bank over wrong billing.”
Police officials also do not discount the possibility that this might simply be the tip of the iceberg. “It is possible that he might have used several other user IDs and scores of other credit cards, which he hasn’t told us about during interrogation,’’ says DIG Adarsh Katiyar, who admits that this case is one of the most interesting he has come across in his career.
How he was caught
IT ALL started when M A Thomas, ONGC chief engineer who was posted in Guwahati, noticed excess billing in his credit card and wrote a mail to Indian Airlines saying that he had never used his credit card to book the ticket.
Smelling a rat, Indian Airlines officials started digging details of the user ID used to book the ticket and alerted Indore police that Akshay had booked a ticket from Indore to Delhi, using the same user ID, but another credit card. Acting on the tip-off, the Tukoganj police promptly picked him up as he was leaving the Indian Airlines office.