The police have arrested a gang of nine men, including two Nigerians, in connection with an online lottery fraud worth over Rs 40 lakh.
The DN Nagar police, which made the arrests on Thursday night, also suspect that the gang siphoned off Rs 70 lakh from a bank account after laying their hands on the cheque book of an accountholder early in February.
The two Nigerians, Charles Ikona Oputta and Yomi Prince Olyakudosa, are believed to be the masterminds.
The other seven accused are all in their early 20s and have been identified as Rahul Gudti (22), Prabhu Patwa (22), Rajiv Singh (24), Brijesh Pandey (25), Harish Kumar (24), Samarjeet Rathod (20) and Dhananjay Rajbhar (20).
The police have recovered 80 fake debit cards, ATM cards and MasterCards Visa cards as well as counterfeit cheque books, passbooks, driving licences, ration cards, PAN cards and account opening forms of various banks.
The gang was spotted near the Ram Mandir in DN Nagar by a police patrol. “On seeing the police, the men started acting suspiciously so we brought them to the police station,” said VK Bhoite, senior police inspector, DN Nagar police station.
“They have admitted to have cheated more than 40 people with the online lottery fraud. We are now trying to trace the victims,” said Bhimrao Indulkar, the police inspector investigating the case.
Their modus operandi, a police official said, was for the Nigerians to identify their victims with the help of three of the men who used to work as direct sales agents with banks.
“Once the victim was identified, the gang would send the person an email or SMS saying the person had won a lottery worth lakhs of rupees. Some of the recipients would fall for the trap and contact the sender following which the Nigerian duo would ask them send them money for tax purposes as the amount involved in the lottery was huge,” the police official said.
To make it appear genuine, an Indian agent would approach the victim. “He would give them a bogus bank account number and ask the victim to deposit the tax amount in the account. As soon as the money was deposited, the gang would withdraw it,” the police officer said.
“We are also enquiring about the cheque book that was used to withdraw Rs 70 lakh from an account,” said Indulkar.