Published On : Sat, Jul 15th, 2017

ATM fraud in Nagpur traced to small village in Jharkhand

ATM fraud, Cyber Cell, EOW
Nagpur: Picture this. Two youths from a far flung remote village in Jharkhand where even you need to climb a tree to access the mobile network, took up a notorious plan to rehash the mobile numbers through using mobile applications and trapped people through making phone calls. However never did they know that their call to a ‘prospect prey’ in Nagpur would lead them into police net.

The city police team have cracked this online fraud case and arrested these two culprits, identified as Lala Das (50) and Sudhir Mandal (32). The two were operating from Jamtara district in Jharkhand. Also rounded up were two juveniles who were helping them in the operation.

The matter came to light after a Sonegaon resident Sangeeta Dhote, 45 lodged a complaint that she was duped of Rs 30,000. Later the police swung into action and with the help of call detail records (CDR) managed to trace the culprits. Police learnt that Das and Mandal had duped several others all over the country using the same modus operandi.

According to DCP (economics offence wing) Shweta Khedkar, Jamtara has a population of just 2000 out of which 90% people are involved in committing ATM frauds.

The fraudsters used the ‘Sha plus’ app to commit the crimes. The app helped them secure the first four digits of cell numbers. They would then randomly add six more digits and try their luck by making phishing calls (see modus operandi).

Cops have recovered 11 mobile phones, worth Rs55, 000 and Rs1,13, 168 in cash from Jamtara. Another suspect Rakesh Das (22), who is related to Lala, is absconding.

Khedkar told reporters that this established gang has been operating since 2016. They had targeted Maharashtra as 9,056 calls were made to the state. This was 60% of the total calls (15,418) made. Rajasthan comes second with 2,130. The city’s cyber cell complaint unit received 205 ATM fraud cases.

“The accused had a very good command over Hindi language. The elders in the village would groom the others in committing the fraud right from childhood,” said Khedkar.

The crime has been in vogue since 2008 and investigations have been carried out by cops from all states since then.

DCP Shweta Khedkar, EOW
However, it was only now that the police were able to nab the culprits. “8 days after we landed in Jamtara, we managed to nab the culprits,” said Khedkar.

According to ACP (EoW) Ashwini Patil, the fraudsters had built well-furnished houses in Jamtara and also bought four-wheelers. “The adjoining city of Deogarh is also known for similar crimes,” she said, adding that a Tamil Nadu police officer was similarly duped by a six-year-old fraudster.

Cyber cell API Vishal Mane said that the accused owned basic mobile phones but procured sim cards through forged documents which would be used in smart phones to cheat people. “Network was not easily available in Jamtara and the accused had to climb trees to get connected,” he said.

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Sunita Mudaliar - Executive Editor
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