Patna, Oct. 8: A racket of money transfer from Pakistan and other neighbouring countries to accounts of ordinary citizens in Naxalite-hit districts of eastern Bihar has caught police unawares in the state.
The headquarters in Patna has sought a detailed report from the Jamui superintendent of police on transaction of money from abroad, particularly from Pakistan, through bank accounts of some residents of the district.
Personnel attached with the cyber crime cell of the Criminal Investigation Department have been asked to assist the district police in the investigation in view of the seriousness of the matter.
“The cyber crime cell is being involved in the investigation in view of the complexity of the case,” a senior police officer said, adding that such a racket has come to light for the first time in the state.
The Jamui police on Friday arrested seven persons and recovered at least 20 ATM cards of different private and nationalised banks from their possession.
The raid, carried out under Jamui and Laxmipur police stations of the district, also led to seizure of Rs 45,000 and over a dozen mobiles.
Jamui assistant superintendent of police (ASP) Pushkar Anand said the racket was active in Jamui, Lakhisarai, Munger, Bhagalpur in Bihar and Deoghar in Jharkhand.
“We have decided to quiz the officials of the banks for their failure to inform the police about the huge transactions from Pakistan,” he added.
The modus operandi of the racket is simple. The money is deposited from Pakistan and other countries in the bank accounts of the people living in Jamui and its adjoining districts, who subsequently, withdraw the amount through ATMs.
They later purchase recharge coupons for direct-to-home (DTH) service and provide the PIN of the recharge coupons to one “Bade Saheb”, reportedly staying in Pakistan, either by SMS or email. “We don’t know about the use of the DTH coupons in Pakistan,” a police officer quoted one of the arrested persons as saying.
Investigation revealed that the bank accounts were opened in the name of people belonging to the lower strata of society.
The account holders were paid Rs 5,000 per month by the racketeers for using their ATM cards, an investigating officer told The Telegraph.
The magnitude of the racket can be gauged from the fact that a shopkeeper dealing in DTH recharge coupons at Jamui sold off coupons worth Rs 15 lakh in a month.
Another shop — Saurabh Communications — sold off DTH recharge coupons worth Rs 4 lakh in the past 10 days, the ASP added.
An investigating officer said several calls of “Bade Saheb” were received on the cellphones of the arrested persons when the latter were in police custody.
“Since Jamui is one of the worst Maoist-hit districts, the links of the arrested persons with Naxalite or other terrorist outfits cannot be ruled out,” the ASP said.
The arrested persons have been identified as Gautam Singh alias Pappu Singh, Rajesh Kumar, Shanker Sah, Ashok Singh, Sintu Kumar Mandal, Dhirendra Sao and Bankesh Kumar, all said to be residents of Jamui district.
Each member of the racket used to earn between Rs 50,000 and Rs 1,00,000 (one lakh) per month. “They were paid 20 per cent as commission for the services rendered to Bade Saheb, whose identity is yet to be ascertained,” a senior police officer associated with the investigation said.
A case under Section 13 (i) of Foreign Exchange Management Act has been registered against the arrested persons. Under the section, accepting/receiving money in one’s account from an unknown source is illegal.