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Police conducted decoy operation, sent officers as cyber experts to crack bank data theft case

Meanwhile, police made two more arrests on Wednesday, a woman and a man, taking the number of arrests in the case to 10 till now.

Written by Sushant Kulkarni | Pune |
March 17, 2021 11:09:11 pm
Pune cyber crimePune police said on Tuesday that their cyber crime wing had arrested eight persons, including four IT engineers and a Marathi actor and ad filmmaker, for allegedly trying to sell data of bank accounts( file)

Pune Police’s Cyber Crime Cell conducted a decoy operation and their officials played the role of cyber experts to crack the bank data theft case. Eight persons were arrested earlier for allegedly conspiring and trying to sell bank account data — from two prominent banks — containing deposits of Rs 216 crore in total.

Meanwhile, police made two more arrests on Wednesday, a woman and a man, taking the number of arrests in the case to 10 till now.

Pune police said on Tuesday that their cyber crime wing had arrested eight persons, including four IT engineers and a Marathi actor and ad filmmaker, for allegedly trying to sell data of bank accounts — some of them dormant — containing deposits of Rs 216 crore. Some of the arrested suspects, including the IT engineers, were in possession of the data pertaining to these bank accounts. They were in touch with potential buyers, some of whom have already been arrested while some more are under the scanner.

A senior officer from Pune City Police said, “While some of the suspects had the stolen data with them and were also in touch with potential buyers, they did not have the cyber knowhow to use the data for siphoning of the funds. It is around this time that we received the tip-off and started monitoring their activities. We decided to conduct a decoy operation and send our team as cyber experts. Two of our team members posed as cyber experts and engaged with them.”

“After confirming key details in this operation, we decided to move further and make arrests… thus preventing the data from falling into the wrong hands,” added the officer.

Sources have told The Indian Express that the handful of targeted accounts – which collectively hold total deposits of Rs 216 crore — mostly belong to corporate entities and not individuals. Police are now getting in touch with the account holders.

Another officer said that a woman had played a key role in bringing together these three parties — those who had the data, those who wanted to buy it and the cyber expert who were actually police decoys. The woman was placed under arrest on Wednesday.

Later on Wednesday, another man who is the proprietor of a local news channel in a city in Maharashtra was also placed under arrest. He was one of the persons set to receive the stolen data. Police have not officially disclosed the names of the arrested suspects, saying it could jeopardise sensitive leads they are working on.

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Some of the key leads that the investigation teams are now trying to piece together are on how the data was stolen in the first place, whether it was stolen directly from the banks or through the entities hired by banks to maintain or secure their data. Police teams have also checked whether the data they had recovered from the suspects was genuine. But subsequent to communications with the bank, it has come to light that data pertaining to the bank accounts is genuine.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Crime and Economic Offences Wing) Bhagyashree Navtake said, “We are working on various crucial leads and will surely go to the root of this case.”

Assistant Commissioner of Police Shivaji Pawar said, “We have formed 10 separate teams to work on various angles of this case.”

Initially, six persons were arrested by police, including a man who has acted in a few Marathi films, TV serials and has made a few ad films through his company. He has also been associated with the film wing of a political party and is the son of a veteran film and TV actor. Information given by these suspects further led police to an address on Sinhagad Road, where two more persons were arrested. Police officials said that a few more persons were under the scanner due to their links with the case.

Another puzzle police are trying to solve is how these people, including IT engineers, an actor and film-maker, businesspersons etc — from various places in Maharashtra and outside — came in contact with each other for this ‘inter-state’ conspiracy.

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