The system of e-auction of vanity vehicle numbers was introduced by the Punjab transport department in 2015 to ensure transparency in the allocation of registration numbers, but in reality some agents are calling the shots and hoodwinking the department by making multiple bids for the same number with different names and amount.
A thorough study of the e-auction data of the last four series, clearly gives away the fraudulent involvement of agents.
In the auction details of FA series that was conducted in November, 14 of 37 bids were made from e-mail id ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ under multiple names. Like in the FA series, Suresh Kumar, Amrit Pal Singh, Jagjiwan Singh, Mayank Sood, Kamaldeep Kaur were some names of the applicants applying from ‘email@example.com’ just for FA0002, similar was the case for other numbers.
Even in the series EZ, there were 13 of 32 applicants bidding from this email id. In EY series 12 of 35 applicants bided using this mail id and 13 of 32 users were again from this mail id in the EX series.
Other than this, ‘firstname.lastname@example.org’ and ‘email@example.com’ were some other commonly used email ids in these four series (FA, EZ, EY, EX) with different applicant names.
When the data was shown to district transport officer (DTO) Lovjeet Kalsi on Wednesday, she said that there might be some anomalies in it and she will get it cross-checked. Kalsi also added that the auction process is outsourced to Smart Chip Pvt. Ltd, a private-partner service provider which conducts the auction.
How the scam works
An employee at the district transport office informed that many people make the bids through agents. He also added that the agents bid higher than the reserve price in the e-auction under different names, but they do not actually turn up to purchase the numbers even after winning the bid. Later, after the deadline for making the payment expires, the applicant comes and purchases the number on the value of reserve price. In some cases, the applicants even bid two times for the same number with different names and with different amounts.
For example, an applicant Ravi (imaginary name) wants to purchase a number say ‘0005’ with a reserved price is Rs 50,000 of any series, he will make a bid of Rs 50,000 from an id using his name and a bid for the maximum value say Rs 1lakh (where the bid ends) from some other name from another id.
Every applicant who has won the bid is given a period of one week to make payment for the number, and if the applicant doesn’t show up, the number goes to the next highest bidder.
This way, Raj will not turn up when he is supposed to pay Rs 1 lakh after winning the bid and later he will purchase the number by paying Rs 50,000, the reserve price only.