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Three arrested in social security pension scam

Officials of cyber cell, Bhopal, said they have zeroed in on four persons, all of them from Rewa. Three have been arrested, while the fourth accused, the person who arranged for the data, is still absconding.

bhopal Updated: Apr 13, 2018 21:19 IST
Shruti Tomar and Punya Priya Mitra, Hindustan Times
Bhopal,Madhya Pradesh,pension scam
(Representational image)

Three persons were arrested by the Bhopal cyber cell on Thursday after data from the social security pension portal of the state government was changed to enrich scamsters, thus endangering the pension of over 37 lakhs pensioners who get old age, widow and disability pension though the portal.

Officials of cyber cell, Bhopal, said they have zeroed in on four persons, all of them from Rewa. Three have been arrested, while the fourth accused, the person who arranged for the data, is still absconding. Those arrested are Man Singh, Ashok K Majhi and Kuldeep Singh. The absconding accused is Amit Kesarwani.

Officials said in their investigations so far they have found that the scam was going on in 26 districts and details of 720 accounts had been changed and the money was flowing into 12 accounts which were operated by the scamsters. The average pension is around Rs 500 per month and it goes to the poorest section of society.

“We have identified four persons who are behind the scam, and all of them are from Rewa. The exact quantum of money diverted is not known as we are still gathering details from the bank but it might run into crores,” said Cyber Cell Bhopal SP Shailendra Chauhan.

The pension portal is managed by the National Informatics Centre and when the portal was launched in October 2017, the officials of the social justice department had claimed that it was a foolproof and transparent system though which pension would go directly to the beneficiary’s account in one click, thus cutting unnecessary hassle for the pensioner.

The initial irregularity was detected by CEO Janpad Ujjain, Ashok Jain sometime in March. “I noticed that some of the pension accounts were not linked with Aadhar and I asked the beneficiaries to link their accounts with Aadhar. However, many of them said that they were not getting the pension even though our data showed that money was being transferred. Further investigations showed that the account into which the money was going was not even held by the pensioners. We immediately informed out seniors who handed over the case to the police.”

Social Justice department, principal secretary Ashok Shah admitted that the data breech was a serious one. “Alertness helped us in getting information of data breach. It is a serious matter and data breach is not possible without any involvement of NIC’s employees. To disperse the pension of lakhs of dependents is a big responsibility and we can’t take the risk of further irregularities.”

“The department will ask a central government recognized agency to hold an audit of software to check the loopholes so that such thing wouldn’t repeat,” said Shah.

First Published: Apr 13, 2018 21:19 IST