Pan-India fake degree racket busted in Mohali
The Mohali police have busted a gang that was active throughout the country and provided fake degrees and certificates of various courses at school, college and university level. In the preliminary investigation, it has come to light that the gang has issued around 1,000 fake degrees of at least 16 government and private universities and school boards.
“Five people, who used to pose as educational consultants, have been arrested. We have also recovered 859 fake degrees, 93 stamps, 5,102 holograms, 16 receipt books, six laptops, four printers, three CPUs, two LCD monitors, two keyboards and other stationery items in bulk besides a Hyundai i20 car,” said deputy superintendent of police Amroj Singh during a press briefing on Wednesday.
Two of the suspects are from Mohali district: kingpin Nirmal Singh, alias Nimma, of Kartarpur village, and Ankit Arora, alias Goria, of Fatehpur Sialwa. The remaining three are from Uttar Pradesh: Vishnu Sharma of Mathura, Sushant Tyagi of Meerut and Anand Vikram Singh of Ghaziabad.
SP (rural) Ravjot Kaur Grewal said these men were running the racket from fake educational consultancy centres in different parts of the nation. “It is a large nexus and also a cyber-oriented crime,” she said.
They were duping students on the pretext of providing them degree certificates of various renowned Indian universities, said the SP.
“In return, they were collecting a big amount of money as well as ID proofs from the students. The students who wished to study abroad or who wanted to fill the gap years were their main targets. At least, 1,000 such students have been identified yet,” said Grewal.
The suspects were using the names of renowned universities and boards, including Punjabi University, Patiala; Adesh University, Bathinda; IK Gujral PTU, Jalandhar; Sikkim University; and Punjab School Education Board, to lure the students. However, role of none of the university or board officials has come to light yet, said police.
Grewal said the racket came to light after the kingpin, Nirmal Singh, was arrested by the Zirakpur police at Kalka Chowk following a tip-off January 26. During interrogation, he revealed details of his accomplices, who were arrested from different areas and recoveries were made from them.
‘Probe on, more breakthroughs likely’
“The suspects are literate and many of them have worked in education sector, due to which they had links with education consultants. A team of hackers was also active in the racket. We are investigating this case thoroughly and more breakthroughs might be made,” said the SP. The mobile phones used by the suspects in these crimes have also been recovered and sent to technical forensic team.
The suspects are in police remand. They have been booked under Sections 259 (having possession of counterfeit government stamp), 260 (using as genuine a government stamp known to be counterfeit), 420 (cheating), 465 (forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc), 468 (forgery for purpose of cheating), 469 (forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 470 (forged document), 471 (using as genuine a forged document), 473 (making or possessing counterfeit seal, etc, with intent to commit forgery), and 120B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code, said Zirakpur station house officer Onkar Singh.
The gang’s modus operandi
The accused used to break into data charts of universities/boards after hacking their websites.
The chart was edited to upload the names and addresses of their clients.
By using hi-tech printers and scanners along with fake holograms and stamps, they made several degree certificates.
The clients were provided degree certificates at their addresses through post.
They were also provide links to download the degrees by creating false domain names of university websites.
Universities and school boards on target
Adesh University, Bathinda
IK Gujral Punjab Technical University, Jalandhar
Guru Kashi University, Talwandi Sabo
Punjabi University, Patiala
IEC University, Baddi, HP
Manav Indian University, Solan, HP
Chhatrapati Shahu Ji Maharaj University, Kanpur, UP
Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Meerut, UP
Swami Vivekanand Subharti University, Meerut, UP
Bundelkhand University, Jhansi, MP
Haryana Council of Open Schooling
Council for the Indian School Certificate Examinations
National Institute of Open Schooling
Punjab School Education Board
Punjab State Board of Technical Education and Industrial Training