2,100 Pune residents conned in elaborate data theft scam involving private phone lines

pune Updated: Nov 03, 2017 14:41 IST
Shalaka Shinde
Shalaka Shinde
Hindustan Times, Pune
data theft,phone scam,lottery scam

Some of the fake gold watches and chains seized while solving the crime.(HT Photo)

A man has been arrested and sent to police custody for duping at least 2,100 people through what seems to be a serious case of data theft. Using highly confidential telephone information, the accused then ran a fake lottery system. He is also accused of selling fake gold chains and wrist watches.

Balaji Ramchandra Maddhipatla, 32, kingpin of the scam. (HT Photo)

Balaji Ramchandra Maddhipatla, 32, was arrested from Shivajinagar by the Pune Police crime branch. Police have declined to give the total amount of money involved in the scam, because investigations have only just begun. The amount quite clearly runs into lakhs of rupees.

The police have recovered 650 fake HMT wrist watches and American diamond chains collectively worth Rs 90,000, according to Pankaj Dahane, deputy commissioner of police, crime.

Maddhipatla, a graduate, started a company called Vaidik Bazaar in September and was able to acquire phone numbers which were issued to people as new connections, by various service providers, according to the police.“He got the numbers before people got their connections. Where did he get those numbers from? And the personal details? That is a matter of investigation. He ran this business out of his house in Fatimanagar and then Wanowrie. There is a possible angle of data theft here,” DCP Dahane said.

Maddhipatla approached the people with these newly acquired connections and told them that they had won a lottery and that they were eligible for a gift worth Rs 1,899.

Delivery boys working for Maddhipatla went to these people’s homes with the fake watches and chains which were secured in packing used by known e-commerce sites. However, before they opened the package, the people were asked to pay Rs 550 to the delivery boys, who left as soon as the payment was collected.

“These spin-offwatches and fake chains can be acquired from any local market in bulk. Since the amount siphoned was so not much, not many people complained after realising they were duped,” DCP Dahane said.

The chain and the watch are individually worth not more than Rs 70 each, according to the police.

The complaint in the case was filed by Mahendra Dattatray Sonawane, a resident of Sangamwadi. He received the call and the subsequent parcel on October 27, according to the police.

First Published: Nov 01, 2017 20:37 IST