The Kolkata Police commissioner, Vineet Goyal, issued a warning to the city’s residents regarding the increasing cases of biometric data theft and bank fraud. He said, “The cyber cell of Kolkata Police is working diligently and spreading awareness through various channels. To prevent such incidents, it is crucial to download the mAadhaar application and lock your biometrics. If you encounter such incidents, report them immediately. Once we are aware of them, we will take appropriate action. We are also in contact with banking authorities.”
Shankho Shubhro Chakraborty, joint CP (cybercrime), revealed that reports of such crimes have been on the rise since June of this year. The police headquarters’ bank fraud section is actively investigating multiple cases. The Kolkata Police asserts that these incidents of biometric data theft leading to fraud primarily occur in areas where ATM services are limited, and criminals use biometric cloning for these activities. He advised individuals to secure themselves by locking their biometric data.
A new threat looms over the “City of Joy”, Kolkata, with allegations of large sums being fraudulently withdrawn from bank accounts using Aadhaar cards as tools. Chakraborty revealed that the Kolkata Police has received 66 complaints related to Aadhaar biometric data fraud. He emphasized that most of these cases involve local fraud, but similar incidents have been reported from various states. In recent days, multiple allegations of Aadhaar-based fraud have arisen from different locations.
Not only Kolkata, but also several districts within the state have reported similar cases to the police. In most instances, these frauds occur locally, although neighbouring states have also reported such incidents. These fraudulent activities primarily stem from the misuse of biometric data collected for Aadhaar cards.
In response to these concerns, the All-India Fair Price Shop Dealers Federation has sent a letter to the Union food and distribution minister, Piyush Goyal. The letter highlights the increasing incidents of financial fraud through fingerprint and Aadhaar card replication. Currently, the Centre has made it mandatory to link Aadhaar cards with biometric authentication for ration distribution. Ration dealers are concerned that if customers become victims of fraud by sharing their biometric or Aadhaar card information, allegations of such fraud might be directed towards them. Therefore, they are urging Goyal to address this issue and have proposed the recruitment of employees from the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) at ration shops.
However, at the administrative level, it appears unlikely that the Centre can recruit such employees for all ration shops, according to ration dealers. They argue that by adopting alternative ration-distribution methods, they can protect themselves from fraud allegations. Bishwambhar Basu, the national secretary of the AIFPSDF, stated, “We cannot be held responsible for any fraud. We provide essential services to the public through ration shops, which support our households. Therefore, maintaining social respect is of utmost importance to us. This is why we have brought our concerns to the Centre’s attention.”
According to sources within the Union home ministry, incidents of biometric data theft leading to such fraud have seen a significant increase in six states and one centrally administered region. Residents of these states are the primary targets of cybercriminals. These states include Rajasthan, Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, and West Bengal.