Economic Offences Wing of the Odisha Police has unearthed a major interstate job racket operating from Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh with the arrest of the mastermind of the well-knit gang.
The fraudsters targeted desperate job seekers in at least five states like Gujarat, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, West Bengal and Odisha.
As per a preliminary estimate, at least 50,000 job seekers youth across the country were duped by the well-knit racket. The defrauded amount runs into several crores of rupees, said EOW officials on Saturday.
The racket was being run by a group of highly tech-savvy engineers from Uttar Pradesh with the help of some expert website developers.
This core group was assisted by around 50 call center employees. These employees were paid Rs.15,000 per month and were based at Jamalpur and Aligarh in Uttar Pradesh.
More than 1,000 fake SIMs and 530 handset-mobiles were used for this scam. They were extremely clever and anticipated every move of police and law enforcement agencies. Generally they will use only WhatsApp voice calls by using fake SIM cards, they said.
To avoid “true caller” detection, they ensured to mark and save their mobile number related to Scheme name only. So that if someone checks their name on True caller it will show the scheme name.
They maintained strict discipline not to use their personal phone to the phone used in fraud (which they named as “Kaam wala Phone).
Around 100 mule bank accounts were used in this scam. They will withdraw money only from “Jan Seva Kendra” using the QR code of Jan Seva Kendra and mule account. There is a plethora of such “Jan seva Kendra” in Uttar Pradesh who happily gives the cash amount taking 10 per cent commission.
The fraudsters developed their website resembling a government website displaying the government job advertisement mainly targeting Health or skill department jobs, some using ‘Pradhan-Mantri schemes” to attract and deceive the job seekers.
Fake employment sites were named like “Jeevan Swasthya Suraksha Yojana” www.jssy.in, “Bharatiya Jana Swasthya Suraksha Yojana”, www.bjsry.in, “Gramin Samaj Manav swasthya Seva” www.gsmsss.in, etc.
Sometimes they would also give advertisements in local newspapers but ensure that they will use fake identity and use WhatsApp calls or other such systems and transact money through mule bank accounts only.
They will charge candidates for registration to interview for training to other kinds of events ranging from Rs.3000 to 50,000 depending on to what extent candidates trust them.
Generally they would select all the candidates registered or applied for jobs. To win the confidence of candidates they insisted that they work only through their official website.
They will receive money from candidates in the various mule accounts only. Once they have completed the exercise suddenly the website and Call centers will go off. Then they will come up with some new websites with new schemes on the same pattern. To take extra precaution they would throw all the mobile sets/ SIMS used in the “closed operations” in the nearby rivers.
The mule bank accounts were collected by the accused from Rajasthan and the SIMS used by the fraudsters registered in the name of innocent persons. The fraudsters had been duping people since the year 2020 and have amassed a lot of property worth crores of rupees in Aligarh with the ill-gotten money.
The EOW is in touch with all concerned states as well as Central agencies to alert them as well as to initiate investigations at their level too.
The EOW was working very hard on this case for the last three months to detect this case. “So far, this has been the most challenging case for the EOW as the scamsters are very smart and researched/pre-empted moves of law enforcement authorities. By analysing various clues and technical and physical surveillance, we could make the first arrest in this case,” said the officials.
The EOW arrested the kingpin of the racket – Zafar Ahmed (25) of Civil Lines, Aligarh, Uttar Pradesh – under sections 467/486/471/420/120-B Indian Penal Code. He is an engineer (B. Tech) by profession. He was produced before a local court in Aligarh. The court later granted a five-day transit remand. He will be later produced before the court at Bhubaneswar.
“We are very thankful to Aligarh Police of Uttar Pradesh for assisting us in arresting the accused. Investigation is still going on to unearth the involvement of others and the huge amount amassed by the fraudsters in this process”, the EOW officials added.