Main accused in 16,000-crore cyber scam arrested by Thane cyber police | Mumbai news - Hindustan Times
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Main accused in 16,000-crore cyber scam arrested by Thane cyber police

ByAnamika Gharat
Apr 03, 2024 10:38 AM IST

Thane SIT arrests Jitendra Pandey, main accused in ₹16,000-crore cyber fraud case. Challenge now is to trace businessmen who transferred money to him.

THANE: In a major breakthrough, the Thane SIT team headed by additional CP Punjabrao Ugale, arrested Jitendra Pandey, the main accused in a 16,000-crore cyber fraud case. Pandey, who was on the run in different cities, was finally arrested from Varanasi. The challenge before the police now is to trace the businessmen who transferred money to him through different channels to save taxes.

Thane SIT team arrested Jitendra Pandey. Representational Image
Thane SIT team arrested Jitendra Pandey. Representational Image

This is the 12th arrest in the case so far. The previously arrested accused are out on bail after the filing of the chargesheet.

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The payment gateway scam happened in April 2023. The police blew the lid off the racket in July while investigating a cyber fraud in which 25 crore was siphoned off through the escrow account of a payment gateway company based in Thane’s Wagle Estate. It was found that of the 25 crore, 1.39 crore had been transferred to Riyal Enterprises, a company with offices in Vashi and Belapur. A further probe revealed that some of the 269 bank accounts used by Riyal Enterprises and its five partnership firms belonged to economically underprivileged people.

During the subsequent investigations, the cyber police and the team of forensic data experts traced 11 accused who had helped Jitendra Pandey transfer the money overseas by creating different partnership firms through fraud documents. They allegedly used fake identities and the bank accounts of several poor people to transfer the money.

Pandey, 39, is a commerce graduate, who was working as a banker before leading the payment gateway scam. He absconded immediately after the first case was reported in July, switched off his phone and went into hiding in Lucknow and his native Varanasi.

Sources said Pandey was using different IP addresses and switching the dongle on whenever he wanted to contact his family or any important person. “It was thus difficult for the police to trace him,” said a source. “But with the continued tracking of his activity, he fell into the trap of the Thane police team, which arrested him from Varanasi on Sunday.”

While working in the banking sector, Pandey gained tremendous knowledge in IT and hawala transactions. Business entities would send him money through different channels to transfer it to China to avoid taxes. Pandey would take 20 to 30 percent for each transaction.

Pandey and his associates had a host of unethical methods. In the name of freight charges, he would import and export fake products to send money outside the country through outward remittances. Authentic-looking paperwork was done for the fake products and bank accounts in order to make transactions to the overseas company. As most payments were through multiple channels, they could evade large amounts of custom duty and income tax to the Indian government as well.

Pandey started building his team three years ago, which included all the arrested 11 as well as others who are still on the run. All the accused, who have multiple aliases for the illegal work, have a different expertise.

As per the Thane police chargesheet submitted last month, Amol Andhale alias Aman alias Rohan Kedar helped Pandey create hundreds of different bank accounts of poor people. Anup Dubey alias Ansh helped set up the fake import-export business by creating 98 partnership firms and 18 private limited companies.

Sanjay Gaikwad and Dinesh Shirke opened five partnership firms, including Reyal Enterprises, with 12 bank accounts to transact illegal money. Every month, they would get 10,000 to 15,000 depending on the transactions. Sandip Nakashe and Ram Bohra created two private limited companies and 29 different bank accounts to transact the illegal money.

Bhupesh Agrwal and Mahendra Jain, colleagues of Pandey in his banking job, had knowledge of outward remittances, and helped in making fake documents of bills of lading. Gaurav Bansal, a chartered accountant, with the help of three women employees, would give the accused 15CB certificates to evade income tax, for which he would get 10,000 per certificate.

Satinder Singh plotted with Pandey to evade tax for the fake import-export business. He would show a lower value of products purchased from Chinese businessmen and send them the entire amount in the name of outward remittance through the private firm started by the accused. They did all their transactions through a Hong Kong-based bank.

All these accused are out on bail for now. An officer from the Thane police said, “By tracing different IP addresses, we traced Pandey’s location and arrested him with the help of UP Special Task Force officials. We have been granted his custody for seven days. But since there are many transactions involving large sums of money, it will take time to conclude the matter.”

The Thane police have written to the central authority of the United Arab Emirates, Singapore and Hong Kong, seeking information on the outward remittance details in the case. Around 108 witnesses have been examined so far.

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