New Delhi: The sleepy tribal town of Karmatand in Jharkhand’s Jamtara district, where the great social reformer of the 19th century, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar worked for 18 years to educate the tribal girls, has  earned the distinction of being the cybercrime capital of India. Some time ago, Union Home Secretary, Rajiv Gauba, an IAS of Jharkhand cadre, commented that half of the cybercrimes in India were being committed from Jamtara, which had turned into the “cybercrime capital of the country”.

There are over 150 cases of cybercrimes lodged against Karmatand youths. The latest victim of cybercrime committed by criminals from Karmatand, is Preneet Kaur, a Congress MP and wife of Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh. She was duped of Rs 23 lakh from her bank account by the local leader of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha, Ataul Ansari, who the police allege, is the ring leader of these criminals.

On 3 August, while she was attending the Parliament session, she received a call on her mobile from a person who claimed that he was the branch manager of the State Bank of India, New Delhi. The man, masquerading as the bank manager, informed her, “Your salary for several months (Rs 23 lakh) is lying uncredited with us. Please give us your account number, one time password and internet banking password.” The unsuspecting Kaur instantly obliged the caller.

In the afternoon, she got an SMS from the bank that she had transferred Rs 23 lakh to different accounts to different persons. She informed her husband, who alerted the police. A team of Punjab police made preliminary investigations and found the money was transferred to 28 different accounts, 21 of them belonging to SpiceIndia company account at Gurugram. Later, the Punjab police conducted an inquiry and found the transactions were done from Jamtara district.  After this, the Punjab police alerted its Jharkhand counterpart and visited hundreds of houses at Karmatand after which the search zeroed in on Fofnad village, 10 km from the district headquarters. The local villagers informed the visiting Punjab police that some of the youths had amassed a huge wealth in the last few months.

Police investigation later revealed that JMM leader Ataul Ansari was the kingpin of the cybercrime offences. When Ansari’s house was raided, 693 SIM cards and 19 Android mobile sets were found.

Sources said that Ansari was engaged in the construction of Jawahar Awas Yojana houses and owned a brick kiln. His palatial house had a number of air-conditioners too. Ansari has admitted to defrauding the Punjab Chief Minister’s wife and several other VIPs. The list includes an MP of Kerala, cine star Amitabh  Bachchan, who lost Rs 5 lakh, a senior IAS from Madhya Pradesh and  a retired officer of ONGC (Rs 65 lakh).

Two more cybercriminals, Asgar Ali and Noor Ali, have been arrested by Jamtara police. Their victims included bank customers from Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, MP, West Bengal, Odisha, Delhi, Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Punjab.

In the last 15 days, the cybercrime branch of Jharkhand has registered 65 cases of bank fraud involving the same modus operandi.

Jamatara District SP Anshuman Kumar said Punjab police has taken Ansari to Punjab on transit remand.

 

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