The Police in Powai, Mumbai has unearthed a major scam with the arrest of four persons of a gang which fraudulently got huge sums of money transferred from accounts of wealthy businessmen, says a report in the Mumbai Mirror.
The gang of professional fraudsters got money transferred from the bank accounts of wealthy businessmen to their own accounts opened in fake names.
So far, the police have arrested four members of the gang that possibly has over two dozen members, besides a kingpin said to have ‘Bollywood connections'.
Despite the arrests, however, the gang continues to operate. Police sources estimate that the gang which has been operational since 2005, has swindled over Rs 200 crore thus far.
The modus operandi is simple. Members of the gang first rent an office or home in a suburb. They then get fake PAN cards, voter IDs and ration cards made in different names but with their own photographs. Every member has at least five different identities. These documents are used to open accounts and obtain credit cards with many banks. While they swipe the credit cards to make as many purchases as possible, the fake accounts are kept to make a bigger killing.
The kingpin obtains information about wealthy businessmen who have huge sums in their bank accounts. “The main boss somehow manages to obtain duplicate cheque books of such accounts. Signatures on the cheques are forged and huge sums transferred to one of their fake accounts,” said Assistant Inspector S N Bhandge of Powai Police Station.
Once transferred, the money is withdrawn in seconds. “The accused are very quick and do not leave the money in the fake accounts for long,” said Prakash Mutyal, deputy commissioner of police.
Though four members have been arrested, transactions are still taking place in several such fake accounts as there are at least two dozen members still at large.
“As and when we learn of a suspicious bank account from the arrested men, we inform the bank to stop processing transactions of the account,” said Bhandge.
Gang members apart, the police are looking for some bank employees who, sources say, are allegedly helping the accused for a three per cent cut by providing information about wealthy account holders and obtaining duplicate cheque books.
“There is a possibility of bank employees being involved in the scam,” said Rajdoot Roopwate, senior inspector of Powai Police Station. Those arrested are Muzaffar Patel, 27, Mohsin Patel, 25, Ansar Ahmed, 26, and Wasim Ahmed, 27.
The swindle came to light when Rs 25 lakh was withdrawn from the account of one Rahul Jasnani. A resident of Hiranandani Gardens, he filed a complaint on October 20, and the police found that a blank unsigned cheque from his office had been stolen and used to transfer funds to another bank account.
Police say that the accused forged Jasnani's signature and deposited the cheque in an account of one Jivraj in another bank. Within seconds of the amount being transferred, the accused produced two cheques of Rs 9.90 lakh each to withdraw cash.
While the first cheque was cleared, before the second could be encashed Jasnani alerted the bank and payment was stopped. However, the person present in the bank to encash the cheque fled, leaving behind the cheque.
The bank had CCTV cameras which helped the police arrest the first accused — the man who fled with the cash. Interrogating him led to the arrest of three others. The police then investigated their bank accounts and transactions, and unearthed the major scam.
“When we started off it was a simple case of a Rs 25 lakh cheque that was fraudulently encashed. Now it has turned out to be a very huge and widespread scam,” said DCP Mutyal.