Ravi Thakur, 20, a student from Ranchi studying in Delhi University, received a phone call from a person, who claimed that he was from his bank and convinced him to share his ATM password other card details.
Within a couple of hours, more than Rs.70, 000 was debited from Thukur’s account.
Thakur is one of the increasing number of gullible people who are falling victims of cyber criminals operating from Jamtara district in the state, police say.
Cyber criminals from the district have duped hundreds of businessmen, corporate employees and technology-savvy students based in the metros in the past one year, Jamtara police chief Manoj Kumar Singh told Hindustan Times.
“We have arrested at least 60 cyber criminals from Jamtara for duping people from across the country in the past three months,” he said.
“At least 700 youngsters in the district are engaged in such activities for easy money.”
Jamtara, about 263 km from Ranchi with a large number of uneducated and unemployed youngsters has fast developed into a “cottage industry” for cyber criminals, trained by expert hackers from Delhi, he said.
Police say the increasing number of internet users in the country is attracting cyber criminals, as these are first-time users, who can be duped easily.
Earlier this month, the Chhattisgarh police arrested three youngsters from the district for allegedly duping businessmen in the neighbouring state.
Police say they are amazed about the knowledge these criminals have on hacking bank accounts with internet banking facilities and using ATM card numbers to siphon off money from bank accounts.
“It is surprising how these youngster who have not even passed Class 5 are duping the most educated people in the country,” said Singh.
The police say the crime in the state started in 2011, when four youngsters from the district migrated to Delhi in search of jobs. In Delhi, they met a gang of cyber criminals who trained them. The youngsters returned to Jamtara and formed their own gang.
The lure of easy money attracted more unemployed youngsters towards the crime. Soon the gangs began recruiting youngsters with an initial lesson on hacking.
Most cyber criminals in the state go scot-free due to lack of dedicated police stations to deal with such crimes.
The Jamtara police say they are helpless as they have to rely on the cyber crime cell at the state police headquarters in Ranchi.
“I agree that the poor rate of conviction in such cases is a drawback since the IT Act is weak,” said additional director general of police SN Pradhan.
“The department is planning to book such offenders under Sections of the Indian Penal Code and has form dedicated teams to keep a tab on the modus operandi of these criminals.”
The elderly residents of the district, however, do not know much about cyber crime. For a majority of them, their sons are working with private computer companies that offer handsome salaries, said Prakash Sharma, a professor in Jamtara.
“Over 90% of youths in this district are into this crime. This is the same gang involved in making fake calls to people in different states and asking for their ATM card details saying that their card was about to expire,” Chhattisgarh inspector general of police GP Singh told the media after the arrests.