For the last few years, several cases have been registered with the Mumbai Police where it was revealed that the accused had used e-wallets to siphon off illegally withdrawn money.
On May 23, a 34-year-old cloth merchant from Shivaji Park received a call from a man, claiming to be a bank telecaller, who sought his debit card details under various pretexts and allegedly withdrew Rs 33,400. During investigation, the Shivaji Park police found that the money had been transferred to a popular e-wallet from where it was subsequently withdrawn.
In another incident, a 43-year-old taxi driver from Antop Hill was duped of Rs 20,000 on May 25 in a similar way. In this case too, the police said the amount was routed to a popular e-wallet.
Earlier, the police said, the accused would use the stolen money to make purchases at service establishments, or paid mobile bills. A senior officer at the cyber police station said, in some of the cases, the accused had also paid the stolen money to some shopkeepers or owners, who would make online purchases for them. “The shopowner would get a certain percentage of the amount…,” he added.
However, over the past few months, the police have seen an increasing number of cases where accused transfer the stolen money to e-wallets. “It is comparatively easier to create a fake account in an e-wallet. Once the money is deposited in an e-wallet, they transfer it to someone’s bank account for a comparatively lower commission…,” said the officer.
Another officer added that while there were some e-wallets that have mandated filling up of the Know Your Customer (KYC) forms for purchases, many still do not have such strict rules. “Some e-wallets, over the past three to four months, have started asking for valid documentation from customers. But there are several others that do not seek any documentation,” the officer said.
The officer added that even when it comes to e-wallets, it is difficult to find the money trail. “First, since the e-wallets are set up using fake details, one cannot track the person. Even if the money is transferred to another bank account, it turns out to be a mule account — a person who has agreed to give his account for a certain commission. He withdraws the money and breaks all contacts with the mule account holder. The number can no longer be traced.
Hence, there is no way of tracking down the person,” the officer said.