ED nabs elusive cyber fraudster

Ranchi: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) nabbed a young Deoghar cyber fraud, active for the past five years, from his aunt's house in Madhupur thana area before dawn on Wednesday.

Santosh Yadav, in his mid-20s and an undergraduate student of Madhupur College, was on the ED's radar since August as he eluded police for months. Declared fugitive by a local Deoghar court in two cases including murder and cyber fraud in 2016, Santosh had been hiding and returned to Chhatapathar, Madhupur, three days ago from Mumbai.

A farmer's son in Margomunda village, Santosh amassed property of over Rs 50 lakh by conning people of their money from their bank account details for five years. He is also accused of stabbing to death in Margomunda, under the thana of the same name, in Deoghar, in 2016, over a money dispute.

An ED team said Santosh had developed an effective modus operandi. He would go to an obscure location with many cellphones and make a call to an account holder from one phone, posing as a bank official, and obtain account details. Quickly, with other phones on him, he would withdraw money from that account and make online purchases.

"We were tracking his movements from the past one month. He had been hiding in Mumbai. We arrested him after a raid. We directly contacted Deoghar SP N.K. Singh for logistics support. We did not involve local thana. We ED recovered 14 SIM cards and four mobile phones from his possession," an official in the raid said. "We handed him to the police after taking down his statements."

Santosh's father, farmer Munilal Mahto, told the ED that his son was involved in cyber theft for five years. "He has been doing this work but I don't understand details," he said.

Jharkhand Police, which had given Santosh's case to the ED last month, had raided his home last November to recover Rs15.24 lakh in cash and costly electronic gadgets. But they failed to arrest him then, and his location showed Bangalore.

This apart, the ED in August also lodged two FIRs against Pradeep Kumar Mandal and Yugal Mandal, both from Jamtara, and their aides for cheating people of money by posing as bank officials over phone.

"Santosh, Pradeep and Yugal have similar modus operandi. In all, they obtained over Rs 3 crore from unsuspecting people. Pradeep and Yugal are absconding. We are trying to trace him through their aides such as Pintu Mandal, Bishu Mandal, Mukesh Mandal, Ganpati Mandal and Prakash Mandal," the ED officer said. "Recently on September 7, Pintu came very close to being arrested but managed to escape on his bike."


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