Seven month long country-wide chase by the Mumbai Police last year ended with the arrest of 13 people, including the alleged masterminds of the illegal transfer of Rs 2.4 crore from the Yes Bank account of the RP Geonka Group of firms in May.
While the plotters of the cyber fraud have been identified as Nigerian nationals, a church priest from Tamil Nadu is also a key figure in the conspiracy, the police have said. The police are convinced that the crime has its origins in one of thousands of spam e-mails sent daily by the Nigerian accused. Police officers who supervised the investigation believe that one such Trojan-bearing e-mail was opened by an employee of the RPG group, allowing the accused to access the firm’s bank account details.
In a series of 14 transfers in three hours on May 11, Rs 2.4. crore was illegally siphoned off and deposited in 12 bank accounts in 10 cities. The receivers were instructed only to withdraw the money credited to their accounts and allowed to retain a percentage, the police said.
After thea transactions came to light, RPG Group instructed Yes Bank to stop them. Yes Bank, in turn, informed other banks to freeze the accounts of the receivers. It ensured that part of the amount could not be withdrawn.
Once Yes Bank officials handed over details of the account-holders, the Worli police had the seemingly straight-forward task of going to their homes and recovering the cash. “Almost all of the addresses turned out to be false. When we went to the addresses, the account-holders were not home,” said Inspector Jeevan Kharat of the Worli police station. Kharat headed a special squad formed by the then Central Region Additional Commissioner of Police, Pravin Salunke.
The police did succeed in nabbing Hyderabad-based businessmen Venkata Reddy (26) and Pawan Waghmare (44) in Coimbatore in June. The men, who operate a small firm selling agricultural implements, planned to use Rs. 3 lakh they had been paid, to expand their business interests.
Another police team, meanwhile, traced the Internet Protocol (IP) address of the computer used to commit the offence. It led them to a small apartment in Saket in south Delhi, where Nigerian nationals Alumona Chukwudi (38) and Ogwu Ransom (37) were holed up. A laptop and an MTS internet dongle were seized from their possession.
With Chukwudi and Ransom at the top of the chain, the police found a network of middlemen spread across the country, engaged in coaxing gullible bank customers into lending their accounts for receiving money. The police identified and arrested one among them – Solomon Prabhakar Duraiswami, a native of Thiruvallur district in Tamil Nadu. The police said 37-year-old Duraiswami is responsible for acquiring bank accounts in Coimbatore, Kanchipuram and Thiruvallur for the accused.
“These middlemen never gave out their full names or phone numbers. They would usually pose as poor people without bank accounts and tell their targets that they needed to receive money either from family living in another state or from a trust. In return, they would promise their targets a small percentage of the sum,” said Vinayak Deshmukh, Deputy commissioner of Police, Zone 3.
Investigations into the acquisition of the internet dongle led to further arrests and unearthed another part of the conspiracy.
The police tracked down an MTS Gallery in Saket, where two employees, Raju Kirodiwal (30) and Rahul Mishra (26), surreptitiously acquired internet connections using details of new customers. “Both men had asked two new customers to submit copies of their driver’s license and address proof. They used one copy of each document and acquired dongles, which were then passed on to an MTS agent named Sudhir Sudhan,” said Kharat.
Sudhan, 35, supplied several such dongles to cell phone stalls in Saket. “We arrested two men, Manish Arora (37) and Amjad Khan (42) for selling the dongles used in the offence, to the main accused. The accused disposed off the dongles after committing the crime,” said Kharat.