Updated: July 17, 2021 10:18:05 pm
With multiple FIRs and over 412 complaints under investigation, two Haryana villages – Jamalgarh and Nai in district Nuh – have fast emerged as a cyber crime hotspot that has been giving sleepless nights to the state police. Such is the rising notoriety of these villages that in Haryana Police circles they are now referred to as the state’s own Jamtara – a Jharkhand village know of digital frauds or phishing.
With a combined population of 30,000, these villages are located around 15 km apart and fall in the Punahana Assembly constituency in Mewat region, considered to be one of the most backward in Haryana.
The sudden spike in Jamtara-style cyber frauds during the Covid lockdowns, and subsequent investigations leading police to suspects from these villages is what brought them into spotlight.
“These two villages and their neighbouring areas in Mewat are emerging as Haryana’s own Jamtara. Majority of the youngsters in these villages are jobless and involved in the cases of cyber frauds. A major cyber crime fraud network operates with involvement of suspects from these two villages and neighbouring areas. We suspect that this gang that operates from these two villages is involved in majority of the cases of cyber frauds that are under investigation, currently in Faridabad and other districts as well. In fact, the accused during their questioning have even said that 95 per cent of their village youth are into these cyber frauds,” a senior Haryana Police officer told The Indian Express.
According to the officer, “The 412 complaints that are under investigation, with high probability of suspects belonging to these villages, were registered from January, 2020 till last month. Out of these, several have been converted into FIRs in which the accused belonging to these villages have been arrested. These cases are pending trial in the court, while the other complaints are also being investigated.”
ACP Anil Yadav, Faridabad, told The Indian Express, “Nai and Jamalgarh are the epicentre. Majority of youngsters of these two villages are involved in nothing else, but cyber frauds. Many of these are barely Class 5 or 6 pass. They use multiple modus operandis to cheat their targets. For instance, they identify their targets from social media portals, send them FB requests, take numbers from JustDial, befriend their targets and then dupe them of their money. They send links of various gaming apps to their targets that once downloaded can be used to siphon off money from the downloader’s bank account. Everybody’s percentage in the gang is fixed. Be it the man who arranges fake SIM card, the shopkeeper who provides the SIM card, the person who gets bank accounts opened on fake SIM cards, the person who will make the phone call, the person who will withdraw the money etc. Throughout the day, they keep sitting in jungle areas of their villages and keep doing this only. When we go to raid their places, entire village gangs up and start levelling allegations.”
He added: “With no legitimate source of income, these criminals have constructed multi-storey houses and their entire lifestyle reeks of
the money that they possess and spend.”
Police investigations further revealed that the gang had collected crores of rupees during Covid lockdown period through cyber frauds.
“While probing a cyber fraud complaint, we found that Jamalgarh residents Shahid, Azad and Irshad, and their associate Aslam had collected approximately Rs 6 crore during Covid lockdown period. Shahid used to send the links to the people whom this gang would target and finally take out the money from their accounts. In Shahid’s bank account Rs 20 lakh was collected in month of September, 2020 alone by cheating people. Similarly, accused Aslam had collected Rs 2-5 crore using POS machines and distributed among the gang’s members.
Irshad used to arrange fake SIM cards that were being used to commit the crime,” revealed another senior police official involved with
Police records revealed that on July 7, 2020, while investigating a FIR registered by Faridabad police, they found that one accused, Mubarik, had collected over Rs 1 crore through cyber frauds.
“There were Rs 20 lakh in his bank account during Covid lockdown. Further investigations revealed that he had already collected Rs 80 lakh through same cyber frauds and distributed the same money among his accomplices,” a senior police official added.
Talking about the modus operandi adopted by the accused, another official added, “Accused Mustafa’s responsibility was to prepare forged Aadhaar cards and procure mobile phone SIM cards that were used to cheat people. They used to call people, procure their bank account details and other related information and then misuse that to withdraw money. Another accused Haidar, who was arrested subsequently, had already collected over Rs 88 lakh from various people and distributed among his accomplices”.
Imdad, a former Sarpanch of Jamalgarh told The Indian Express, “There are bunch of youngsters who are jobless and involved in such cases of frauds. A few are in police custody, while many are still at large. Jamalgarh is a big village and there could be a few who are involved in such cases. In fact, people from Nai village are more involved in such cases of frauds than Jamalgarh natives.”
Mohd Ilyas, Congress MLA (Punahana), told The Indian Express that illiteracy was a major factor behind youth of villages in the region turning to crime.
He said: “It is known that youth of these villages are involved in many such cases, but illiteracy is a major factor that is responsible. Although government and people like me, who are elected representatives, are trying our best to convince youngsters to take path of education, they are not inclined. Poverty is one aspect, but illiteracy is a major factor responsible for more and more youngsters getting into the world of crime.”
Meanwhile, the list of those duped from the gang operating from these parts keeps getting longer.
Sharing her story with The Indian Express, Monika Balla, a resident of Faridabad, said: “It was in September, 2020 when I got cheated by this gang. They took out Rs 1.2 lakh from my account. I am a make-up artist. The caller identified himself as Shrikant Fauji, engaged me for Rs 40,000 for his sister’s make-up who he said was getting married. He said he was transferring money and sent me a link, asked me to accept it. I did that, no money came. He kept changing the amount from Rs 10,000, Rs 20,000, Rs 40,000 and did not let me even check my account balance. He convinced me that it was due to my delay in accepting the link that he was sending that I was not getting the money.
Eventually, when I disconnected, I had lost my money. Police have arrested a few of these criminals, but the main culprit is still at large. In fact, even after I got the FIR registered, I have received calls from six different numbers with the same story, again attempting to cheat me.”
Sonu, a resident of Tilpat in Faridabad, got duped of Rs 80,000, allegedly by the same gang.
“A man identified himself as my old friend and told me that he was getting some money transferred in my bank account. A link came on my phone. I accepted it and the money was gone. Later, I found from my bank that many other people also have fallen victim to the similar frauds and complained with the police,” he said.
“Sonu’s case was the one probing which the team of Faridabad police had intercepted six youngsters, including a Jamalgarh resident Junaid who died 12 days after police questioned him,” ACP Yadav said.
Subsequently, a dozen police personnel of Faridabad district police were booked on charges of murder with FIR registered at Nuh’s Bichor police station on the complaint lodged by Junaid’s mother Khatija.
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