Online fraud is suspected to be a major source of funds for the Maoists as most phone calls for such scams are made from areas of Jharkhand where the rebels have strongholds, according to a police Special Task Force (STF).
Data compiled by the STF of Uttar Pradesh, of mobile phones across the country used to commit online fraud showed more than 2,000 numbers were being operated in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district, where the rebels are active.
“Jamtara district is the hub of online fraud committed across the country and it cannot be ruled out that these racketeers have links with the Naxalites. Such activities from Naxal-hit areas are not possible without patronage from the red brigade,” said Triveni Singh, the additional superintendent of police with the STF.
Singh, who has been tracking online fraud for several years, said cyber crooks were generating lakhs of rupees every day as hundreds of people were becoming victims of online fraud.
“Most of these mobile numbers of different telecom companies are procured using fake identity proofs. These are procured from retailers of Kolkata, Hazaribagh, Asansol, Patna and Ranchi districts of West Bengal, Bihar and Jharkhand,” he said.
An analysis showed that those operating the rackets have set up call centres at Jamtara from which trained people -- both men and women -- make calls to targets. They use various cyber attack tricks to execute crimes such as ATM, debit card and credit card fraud and internet banking scams.
Explaining the modus operandi, Singh said people from the centres make random calls to targets, posing as customer care executives of public and private banks, and seek bank account details. They lure people with offers such as the free recharge of pre-paid mobile phone connections, deposit schemes, banking services and offers to install mobile phone towers to earn a fixed monthly income, he said.
Online transactions are done from the people’s bank accounts after they share details with the callers, Singh added.
Singh said it is tough to raid these centres in Jamtara, especially in areas where the Maoists have a strong hold. The STF is using other methods to curb such practices.
The list of mobile numbers used by the scamsters will be shared with telecom regulatory agencies to impose restrictions on the sale of SIM cards in these areas, he said. Besides, the STF is in contact with Jharkhand Police to counter online frauds centres.