3 arrested for opening more than 200 fake bank accounts in Punjab’s Patiala
Police have unearthed a scam wherein more than 200 fake bank accounts were used to adjust crores of rupees embezzled via online fraud.
During an earlier probe related to the Rs 23 lakh stolen from Patiala MP Preneet Kaur, police discovered that the accused Afsar Ali, 27, and Attaul Ansari, 23, who were arrested, had opened fake bank accounts in Fino Payments Bank. The two pointed to the involvement of branch manager of Fino Payments Bank in Mandi Gobindgarh, Ashish Kumar, 27, who had provided the logistics to them for opening the accounts.
Senior superintendent of police Mandeep Singh Sidhu said the bank provided a special merchant ID, biometric machine and ATMs kits to the accused to open accounts. “The accused Afsar Ali owned a mobile recharge shop in Mandi Gobindgarh and also issued prints of Aadhar cards to consumers,” the SSP said.
Explaining his modus operandi, SSP said that when consumers, mainly migrant labourers, approached him to get duplicate copy of their Aadhar card, he smartly took their biometrics and kept a copy of their Aadhar card.
“He would then use these details to open bank accounts on fake names using someone else’s Aadhar number and biometrics. The second accused Attaul Ansari used to courier him mobile SIM cards from Jamtara in Jharkhand which were used while registering cellphone numbers with new bank accounts,” the SSP said.
However, he said, the account holder had no information about an account being opened in his name at Fino Payments Bank. They duo even got kits from the bank with ATM cards, he added.
“Both Afsar and Attaul Ansari used these accounts to deposit at least Rs 5.33 crore looted through online frauds and had already withdrawn Rs 5.25 crore through ATMs and E-wallets so far,” he said. Currently, police have frozen the Rs 7 lakh deposited in the various fake bank accounts. Crime investigating agency in-charge Shaminder Singh said that so far, the accused had opened over 200 fake accounts on the names of gullible people, with 59 persons from UP, 55 from Bihar, 85 from Punjab, 2 from West Bengal and 1 each in Haryana and Madhya Pradesh.
“All these accounts were opened in July, with most of them opened in Mandi Gobindgarh and Ludhiana due to heavy population of migrant labourers,” he said.
Shaminder added that the bank has no system of personally verifying records and personal data of account holders. “Police are investigating the bank manager’s role to figure out if he knew about the plans of two other accused or not,” he said. Meanwhile, the SSP said he would write about the matter in detail to director general of police Dinkar Gupta to take up matter with Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
“The online banking frauds are a wake-up call for the country’s banking system,” SSP said. Meanwhile, the police have registered a case under section 420 (cheating) and other Sections of Information Technology Act.