Surat police arrested a gang of six people involved in cheating credit card holders to pay power bills amounting to Rs 3.67 crore of various companies in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Punjab, Haryana, Rajasthan, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh by taking OTP from them.
Police also froze 115 bank accounts with a balance of Rs 59. 93 lakh used by the accused.
According to police, a woman from Katargam area in Surat city, approached police with a complaint of cheating by unidentified persons who defrauded her of Rs 21,873 from her bank account. Following her complaint, on May 22, police registered an offence of cheating under Indian Penal Code (IPC) sections 406, 420 and IT Act sections 66 (D) and started a probe.
The woman had in her complaint alleged that on May 16, she received a call from the RBL (Ratnakar Bank) credit card company. Sharing her credit card number and date of birth, the caller told her that she was eligible for three shopping vouchers from the bank, for which she had to share a One Time Password (OTP). The complainant shared the OTP that she received with the caller.
After sometime, she found that Rs 21,873 was deducted from her credit card to pay the power bills of a consumer of Torrent power company in Surat city and another bill of DGVCL consumer in Surat city. She contacted the bank and realised the fraud.
The Katargam police and Surat cyber crime started probe and contacted both the consumers whose bill were paid using the woman’s credit card using their consumer number. Both of them disclosed that they had paid the bill at Vansh Bill collection centre at Varachha and showed the payment receipt to the cops.
On questioning Sandeep Navadiya, owner of Vansh Bill collection centre, police got details of various persons involved in the payment of bills that finally led them to Veer Bhadrasinh Zala, a resident of Bhavnagar.
A police team reached Bhav-nagar and detained Zala who confessed to depositing the amount in the bank account of one Jitendra alias Rahul Mandal who used to pay the bill by defrauding various credit card holders.
On June 1, Mandal was brought to Surat where during interrogation, he divulged that several people, including from Vansh, were involved in the racket and got a certain percentage of the amount.
Police arrested six persons identified as Veer Bhadrasinh Zhala (26), a resident of Bhavnagar, Mehul Kukadia (28), a resident of Katargam, Yash Bhuptani (24), a resident of Amroli, Manish Bhuva (34), a resident of Kagtargam (bill collection agent), Milan Chovatiya (22), a resident of Katargam, and Jitendra Mandal, a resident of Jamtara in Jharkhand.
Surat police commissioner Ajay Kumar Tomar said, “The accused had been involved in this racket for the past three months and they have cheated using 2,200 credit cards. They would pay the bill amount using the credit cards and share the cash they collect from the power consumers among themselves. The gang has paid power bills of of 2,245 customers worth Rs 3.65 crore across the country, of which 2,113 were from Gujarat, 113 from Punjab, 11 from Haryana, five from Rajasthan, two from Uttar Pradesh and one from Maharashtra. We have frozen 115 accounts of the accused in different banks with a balance of Rs 59.93 lakh. The gang leader is Jitendra Mandal who is a school dropout.”
Tomar added that six offences were registered in different police stations in Surat while one in cyber cell in Ahmedabad by customers who were cheated. In Surat, all complainants are credit card holders of Ratnakar Bank. “We are trying to gather more information… We want to appeal to the people not to share OTP with any unkown person.”
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