Illegal lottery websites under I-T scanner | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Illegal lottery websites under I-T scanner

mumbai Updated: Nov 26, 2011 02:12 IST
Manish Pachouly

At least 12 online lottery websites that are functioning illegally in the city have come under the scanner of the income tax (I-T) authorities. The I-T department suspects that these sites serve as a conduit for transferring hundreds of crore abroad.

In a more shocking disclosure, the I-T authorities have found that two of these websites are registered in Lahore, Pakistan, and the department also suspects that the money generated could be used to fund terror-related activities.

Further, the servers of these 12 illegal websites (including those registered in Pakistan) have been traced to the United States, Singapore and Canada.

The I-T is now sending a report to the Intelligence Bureau (IB), as the scope of investigation will now broaden to security issues besides tax evasion.

The department got information about these online lottery companies following a survey conducted on two major online lottery companies that are registered in India and have registered offices in Mumbai. The survey was conducted after the department received information about these companies that they were suppressing receipts.

Sources in the I-T department said that after this survey, they started gathering details about other online lottery companies and got hold of these 12. “On further probe, it came to light that money generated by these companies was being transferred abroad by these 12 companies,” an I-T official said on Friday.

The authorities found that these 12 online lottery companies were functioning without obtaining licences from any of the state governments in the country, which is the primary requirement to start such a business, and that they are also not paying any tax.

The department suspects that the annual turnover of these companies to be worth a few hundred crore. Investigations have also shown that the jackpot winner shown on the websites of some of these lotteries are fake.

“We tracked a winner of Rs 2 crore jackpot whose name was given on the website of an online lottery, but found that such a person does not exist,” said an official, pointing out how these online lotteries are luring people. These lotteries offer as much as Rs 2.2 crore in jackpot.

Though the I-T authorities are trying to go deep into the activities of these online lotteries, they are facing hurdles, as the servers of these websites are privacy protected. Officials suspect that a majority of the operators of these lotteries would be local even as they have registered the websites abroad.