Jamtara/Giridih: He looks no different from an average villager residing in a Jharkhand village. A fleeting glance, gives one the impression of him being a private cab driver. Thanks to the traditional scarf or gamcha that he sports like many drivers in Jharkhand. Nothing seems to be suspicious about him. Meet Pawan Mandal, a man in his late 20s, who has been duping several across India and doing cyber crime to boost his personal bank account. Making things more interesting is the fact that Mandal is a BPL card holder.
Pawan is latest among the thousands of youth, illiterate or educated, diploma or degree holders, who are involved in committing cyber crimes or frauds being conducted from Jharkhand and whose victims are from across India.
The millionare who owns a BPL card
Perhaps his not-so-affluent look made Inspector Sanjiv Kumar Mishra to think twice before taking any action against him, despite having got a tip off.
“When we met him for the first time, there was absolutely no reason for us to not believe him. He seemed to be a simple villager leading a life of acute poverty. On confrontation he denied all the charges levied on him. However, when we began digging deeper into the case, we realized that he was the owner of a car, which he later claimed to have purchased on a loan,” revealed Mishra.
After first meet, it was clear that Pawan was not working anywhere. But it was just one of the many surprises was in store for the Jharkhand Police.
“Using his Aadhar card details, we contacted banks across Giridih. And to our surprise, Pawan along with his mother, father and wife had over Rs 3000000 in their account. The final figure is yet to be confirmed. Two of his gang members, Chetlal and Pritam Mandal also had over Rs 2000000 deposited in their accounts,” said Sub-divisional police officer (SDPO) Manish Toppo to eNewsroom.
Given the gravity of the case, his case has been referred to the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for further investigations.
Jharkhand becomes the hub of cyber fraudsters
Those living in the area adjoining Karmatand and Narayanpur of Jamtara district, vouch for the fact that these areas have always been infested with thugs. However, with the youths getting tech savvy, the style of stealing money has changed. There are many who would add Bengabad, Gandey and Taratand to this list of places in Jharkhand from where cyber fraudulent operate.
Officers investigating the cyber crime cases where people have been duped off their money have observed that most of those resorting to such crimes are illiterates, just like Mandal.
Some teenagers who are involved in the crime also claimed that after seeing news reports they get inspired to earn easy money.
In the past two years, many claim that Jamtara, Giridih and Deoghar districts of Jharkhand have become infamous for being the focal point of cyber frauds being committed across India. Police from every Indian state has visited these districts to get leads for fraudulent callers, who on the pretext of being a bank official fleeced the account holders of their money. Interestingly, these crimes can be committed single-handedly or by a group of people. What’s more surprising is the fact that masterminds or experts in cyber crimes, offer training or workshops, where those wanting to learn the art of committing a cyber crime are trained. These workshops can last for a few hours to a few days, depending on what role one chooses in the team.
An investigating official elaborated the modus operandi of cyber frauds. “It is all about confidence. The caller is needed to make random calls to bank account holders, where they confidently tell the account holder that their account would be suspended, if they don’t share the details. On getting the OPTs they siphon off the money to e-wallets connected with some account that they create with banks using fake KYC details. They use Wallet of different banks to purchase items. They also keep other people’s bank accounts which may be or may not be in the knowledge of the person, which are used by these cyber criminals to transfer the money,” said a police officer.
SDPO claimed, “Now, women and girls are also being used to trap innocent victims. And they are working as good as a professional cyber criminal. However we are yet to arrest any lady. We need more details before we nab them.”
He then added, “During my 18-month-tenure in Giridih, we have arrested 300 plus cyber criminals.” However, the union home secretary, Rajiv Gauba, has recently admitted that the NCRB data is yet to fully capture the actual contribution of Jamtara towards total number of cyber crimes committed in India. He has event maintained that in recent time, Jamtara has emerged as the cyber crime capital of India.
While doing story on Pawan and other cyber fraudsters, Giridih police arrested few more whose primary investigation of bank details revealed that they had 12 to 20 lakhs in their accounts.
Giridih police revealed its modus operandi to tackle cyber crimes.
“While in other areas, police work after getting a complaint or when police from other state or district approach them, we, however, make arrests on tip offs and suspicion that in c ertain area, from so and so areas cyber criminals are operating ,” added Toppo.
A district with cyber crime police station
Plagued with the number of complaints coming in, last year a cyber crime police station had been set up in Jamtara to combat cyber crime. This, many claim, is an attempt to help Jharkhand shed its tag of being the capital for cybercrime. Despite them being successful in their early attempts to contain cyber criminals of Jamtara, many feel the need of many such police stations.
Inspector Mishra mentioned, “There is urgent need of cyber experts in such districts now as most of policemen work in traditional way and cyber crime needs tech savvy person to face the new technological challenges in every cyber crime case.”