In a bizarre case of cyber fraud, a group of fraudsters allegedly procured PAN details of several Bollywood actors and cricketers from their GST Identification Numbers which are available online, and got credit cards issued in their names from Pune-based fintech startup 'One Card'.
Some of the celebrities whose names and details were used by the fraudsters are Abhishek Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Madhuri Dixit, Emraan Hashmi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Shahadra Rohit Meena said.
"Since investigation into the matter is underway, we cannot comment further on it," Meena told PTI.
The company got wind of the fraud subsequently but not before the fraudsters used some of these cards to purchase products worth Rs 21.32 lakh. It immediately alerted the Delhi Police which swung into action and arrested five of them.
The five accused, identified as Puneet, Mohd Asif, Sunil Kumar, Pankaj Mishar and Vishwa Bhaskar Sharma, acted in close coordination to defraud the company in a very unusual manner, Delhi Police sources said.
"After arrest, when they were interrogated, they disclosed their unique modus operandi. They used to get GST details of these celebrities from Google. They were very well aware that the first two digits of GSTIN are state code and the next 10 digits are PAN number,” one of the sources said.
The source added, "Since the celebrities date of birth are available on Google, these two -- PAN and date of birth -- complete the PAN details. They got the PAN cards remade fraudulently putting their own pictures on it so that during video verification, their looks match with the photo available on PAN/Aadhaar card." For instance, the PAN card of Abhishek Bachchan had his PAN and date of birth but a picture of one of the accused.
They forged their Aadhaar details in similar fashion. After getting this information, they applied for credit cards. During video verification, they were asked questions related to their financial activities which they answered easily as they had got all such details from CIBIL.
The source informed that they were aware that these celebrities possibly have good CIBIL scores which would brighten their chances of getting credit cards.
"Also, they were aware that the online verification system cannot identify Abhishek Bachchan as a film star. So the picture of accused Pankaj Mishra with Abhishek Bachchan's PAN and Aadhaar details worked well to get a card issued," he added.
Further investigation is on and it is suspected that they might have used similar modus operandi to get credit cards from other banks and financial institutions.
Police sources also informed that they did online research for several months to find ways to use loopholes in the online verification and issuance of credit cards.
The Pune-based FPL Technologies Private Limited issues "One Card" which is a contactless metal credit card along with a virtual rendition of the same in the One Card and One Score App “so that the customer can use it for any online or app-based transactions or purchases,” the company said in its complaint to the police.
The company further alleged that these fraudsters approached the company through their app by uploading the details such as PAN and Aadhaar number to get credit cards issued in their names.
The credit limit of the card used to be approved after “taking into account the bureau details, that is, the information of the customer stored with the credit information companies, for example CIBIL, to establish the genuineness and authenticity of the applicant and its credentials,” the complaint said.
It added, “They left the original PAN and Aadhaar number and the date of the birth intact and uploaded the forged PAN card/Aadhaar card on our app. Accordingly, our system fetched the bureau details based on the original PAN and suggested a credit limit.”
The company's complaint stated that by misusing the same, “the accused boarded with us by uploading their real time selfie which matched with the photograph on the forged PAN card/Aadhaar card. Accordingly, credit cards were issued to the accused persons with an approved credit limit of Rs 10 lakh each."
“The approved credit limit was exhausted/withdrawn by the accused within a span of a week and nothing has been repaid to us,” the FIR said.
It added, “We came to know about this fraud when our system got an alert that multiple on boarding attempts were being made using a single device. To simplify, the accused tried to onboard with us using a total of 83 PAN details from seven devices.” The company also delivered some physical credit cards to the addresses mentioned on some of the documents.
Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by The Telegraph Online staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.