Five held for cyber theft of ₹1 crore from 45 Palwal residents
Five persons, including a record keeper from the revenue office of Palwal, were arrested on Sunday for allegedly defrauding over 45 Palwal residents of ₹1 crore in the past 10 days by using their Aadhaar numbers and cloning their fingerprints from records to withdraw money from their bank accounts.
The police said the masterminds had prior call centre experience and allegedly bribed officials of the revenue department to gain access to the registry documents which would also contain the Aadhaar details and the fingerprints of those executing the registry. The fraudsters would use the records to shortlist persons whose bank accounts were linked to their Aadhaar numbers and then use cloning machines to duplicate their fingerprints from the records. Armed with this, the gang would carry out Aadhaar enabled transactions and siphon off money from bank accounts without the knowledge of the account holder, police said.
The suspects told the police that they had learned the process by watching videos on the internet. The arrested men were identified as Rohit Tyagi (33) of Ghaziabad, Chitranjan (28) of Aurangabad in Bihar, Aamir Hussain (27) of Chapra in Bihar, Kiran (28) of Bihar and Tularam of Palwal.
The police received over 45 complaints from Palwal residents between May 24 and June 2, wherein complainants alleged that money was fraudulently withdrawn from their accounts, using their Aadhaar details.
Deepak Gehlawat, superintendent of police, Palwal, said, “We started investigations and a team of cyber police was formed on June 2. In all 45 cases, suspects withdrew money from customer accounts using their Aadhaar details. When the team started visiting banks, they were apprised that customers had lodged complaints with them as well,” he said.
Gehlawat said they zeroed in June 3on a bank account to which some money was transferred recently and had a balance of ₹10 lakh. “We immediately got the account freezed and got the local address and contact details of the account holder. Meanwhile, we contacted all banks to check the exact amount of money siphoned off from each one of them,” he said.
The police said that the account, registered to one of the relatives or acquaintances of the gang members, was being operated by Rohit Tyagi as his phone number was provided as the contact number. The police tracked Tyagiusing his call records, who, after being arrested, shared the whereabouts of his associates in Delhi and Palwal.
During questioning, the gang members revealed that they had managed to get registry documents of more than 250 people from the revenue records office.
Gehlawat said the suspects bribed a record keeper at the revenue office in Palwal to get hold of the registry documents. They used a machine to create a rubber clone of the fingerprints they lifted from the documents. They also created accounts with electronic transaction processing platforms (e-wallets etc) to facilitate the money transfer, he said.
“The suspects checked which Aadhaar card numbers were linked to bank accounts, following which they used Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) to carry out transactions. As soon as the transaction is completed, the money is credited to the e-wallet from where the amount is transferred to their bank accounts,” Gehlawat said.
The police said that Tyagi and Chitranjan were the masterminds and had previously worked in illegal call centres to dupe foreign citizens of money on the pretext of providing them technical support for software and appliances.
According to the police, Kiran used to transfer the money from the wallets to the bank account that was operated by the masterminds. Gehlawat said Tularam worked as clerks in the revenue office and provided them property-related documents.
The police recovered one biometric machine, debit and credit cards, rubber stamps, cloning machines, photo polymer gels, laptops, printer, scanner, lamination machine, 220 cloned fingerprints, passbooks, cheque books and electronic gadgets from their possession.
Gehlawat said they have recovered the data of more than 500 people from the arrested men. “They recently bought a Hyundai Venue car for ₹12 lakh. They were planning to target Gurugram residents next and were trying to get hold of a person from the revenue department there,” he said.