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THE MAN suspected to have sold tampered chips to petrol pumps in Maharashtra to dupe customers is believed to have supplied the same to fuel stations in China, Abu Dhabi and South Africa. Mumbai-resident Prakash Nulkar, 49, who was arrested from Karnataka on Tuesday, would allegedly import the chips from China, tamper them and sell them. “He supplied tampered chips across Maharashtra and other states in India. …we have information that he had been selling these tampered chips in China, Abu Dhabi and South Africa,” Thane police commissioner Param Bir Singh said. “We suspect this racket was operating from 2010. The accused would either get a one time payment of Rs 25,000-Rs 50,000 from petrol pump owners or they were paid Rs 3,000-5,000 monthly. Petrol pump owners made anything from Rs 40,000 to Rs 1 lakh per day we suspect.’’
Singh said that an estimated 90 per cent of petrol pumps in Maharashtra were tampered. He added that several petrol pumps have been changing stamps on their machines to rectify their systems since they have been carrying out raids. “Doing that too is an offense since one cannot change stamps without having someone from weights and measures department present.’’
Deputy commissioner of police Abhishek Trimukhe said Nulkar was trained at an Industrial Training Institute and worked as a technician with a company that provided petrol vending machines from 1987 to 2000. “He then found a way to short-change people by supplying adulterated fuel. He later quit his job and started running the scam full time.” Nulkar, who owns three petrol pumps in Goa and Kolhapur, came up with the ploy of using tampered chips and software to dupe users after the government made it mandatory for petrol pumps to digitise operations in 2009.
So far, 23 people, including petrol pump owners, managers, technicians of companies supplying petrol vending machines, have been arrested in the case.