The Special Task Force (STF) of the Odisha Crime Branch has busted a huge interstate racket of opening mule bank accounts by luring gullible persons from the remote areas of different districts of West Bengal, Odisha and Jharkhand, an STF official said on Thursday.
The police apprehended three members of the gang including the mastermind from Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.
The accused were identified as Jamiruddin of West Medinapur district of West Bengal, Hapizul and Jahangir of Balasore district of Odisha.
Following an intelligence input, a STF team carried out a raid and arrested Hapizul from his rented house at Rasulgarh here.
Later, the team also nabbed Jahangir and the mastermind Jamiruddin who were planning to leave for Kolkata.
The STF sleuths have seized various incriminating materials such as mobile phones, pre-activated SIM cards, bank passbooks, Aadhar cards from the possession of the accused persons.
A case has been registered by the STF under various sections of the IPC and the IT Act.
The fraudsters will be produced before the court of SDJM, Bhubaneswar.
“This racket operated mainly in the tri-junction area of Odisha, Jharkhand and West Bengal especially in the districts of Balasore, Mayurbhanj, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum and Saraikela,” said the STF official.
STF sources stated that this racket was headed by Jamiruddin who employed around 10-15 people as agents by paying Rs 15,000 each per month to open bank accounts.
These members later visited various interior areas of the districts located in the tri-junction area.
“They mainly targeted poor villagers/tribals and persuaded/lured them to open the bank accounts. The villagers were generally offered Rs 2000 per account for giving their documents and opening the bank accounts. However the mobile numbers linked with the bank accounts were provided by the gang members,” added the official.
The accused persons later sold these mule bank accounts along with the connected mobile numbers to various rackets involved in cyber-financial, sextortion frauds and other criminals based at Kolkata and other parts of India.
They sold the accounts through social media platforms like secret WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, Telegram channel.
“They sold the mule bank accounts at the rate of Rs 15,000-Rs 20,000 per account. The scammers frequently changed the bank accounts. Generally they abandoned the bank account once it reached a transaction of Rs one lakh. Sometimes the accounts got frozen even before that by the banks on the request of the police,” the official stated.