RPF busts ticketing gang with terror links to Dubai, Pakistan, Bangladesh

The RPF has detained 27 suspects thus far but its alleged mastermind Hamid Ashraf is suspected to be in Dubai
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has busted a gang involved in ticketing scams, money laundering and suspected terror financing.(Representative image/HT Photo)
The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has busted a gang involved in ticketing scams, money laundering and suspected terror financing.(Representative image/HT Photo)
Published on Jan 21, 2020 11:11 PM IST
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Hindustan Times, New Delhi | By Anisha Dutta

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) Tuesday said it has busted an organized gang involved in ticketing scams, money laundering and suspected terror financing with links to Dubai, Pakistan and Bangladesh.

The RPF has detained 27 suspects thus far but its alleged mastermind Hamid Ashraf is absconding. He is currently suspected to be in Dubai. Ashraf had been arrested in 2016 by a joint team of CBI, railway vigilance and local police from Uttar Pradesh’s Basti. He was allegedly involved in a case of bombing at a school in Gonda in Uttar Pradesh, RPF said.

The RPF said it has arrested Jharkhand-based Ghulam Mustafa who was selling train tickets in the black market in Bangalore. The gang was earning about Rs 15 crore per month through this, RPF said.

“After we launched a nation-wide exercise against touting activities - Operation Thunder - Mustafa’s name began appearing a lot. Mustafa and the gang used advanced software and laundered the cash through the use of the dark net. They were also laundering money through bit coins and crypto-currencies. Mustafa had nearly 563 personal IRCTC accounts and a list of 2400 SBI branches and about 600 regional rural bank branches where he appeared to have operated accounts,” RPF DG Arun Kumar said.

Mustafa had been arrested from Bhubaneswar once earlier. The RPF said it has seized two laptops with software named ‘ANMS’ through which he had bypassed the barriers set up to curb illegal ticketing, like providing captcha and bank OTPs.

The ANMS software, developed by the gang, worked in tiers, with the main developer at the top of the chart, followed by the lead sellers or ‘super admins’ who handled money and sent them to Ashraf through hawala accounts and crypto currency, the DG said. Lower on the order were panel sellers, the people who bought the software for selling tickets, and the last tier included agents, he said.

Railway police has also tracked involvement of an Indian software company in the railway ticketing racket run by the gang.

Kumar said Mustafa was interrogated by the NIA, the Karnataka Police and the Intelligence Bureau. Arun said the laptops were using heavy encryption had revealed links to Pakistan-based outfit ‘Tableek-e-Jamaat.’

“He had many contacts with Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Gulf countries, Indonesian and Nepali numbers. The RPF has also identified a Singapore- based software company that was receiving money from the group. The company is being investigated by the Singapore Police for money laundering,” he said.

RPF said it is also chasing the gang’s ‘finance manager’ code-named “Guru ji”.

“He is a technical expert who used a Yugoslavian number and a VPN proxy. Guruji got about Rs 13 lakh from Mustafa through 71 bank transactions. He was facilitating Bangladeshi nationals to come to India for treatment in hospitals across the country,” Arun said.

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Friday, October 29, 2021