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Hi-tech crime

Rajshekhar Jha, This village is a hub of tech-savvy crooks, September 28, 2017: The Times of India

In a remote village like Karmatar in Jharkhand's Jamtara district, most people consider computers and mobile phones as things that only the rich can think about. But the police know otherwise. Almost every week, an investigating team lands up in the village in pursuit of a techsavvy criminal. Karmatar, in fact, is a hotspot of bankingrelated cybercrime.

Belying its sleeping existence as a village of huts and potholed roads, Karmatar, police believe, is where almost half of the country's on line financial crimes originate. Around 200 young men are suspected to be involved in these rackets. Among them is Mohammad Salim, who was arrested by the Crime Branch of Delhi Police in a recent operation.

After passing his Class X exams, Salim told his father, Abdul Mannan, that he would quit studies to start earning money . In time, he came across a fellow villager who was the talk of the area for the branded clothes he wore and the motorcycle he rode. Salim's life changed soon after.

Salim, who once never seemed to be able to linger at home, would now be seldom seen outside his room, which he declared out of bounds even to his family members.Inside, there was a table, bed and half a dozen mobile phones. For his family, Salim was working for an online firm from home, handling data entry and customer service. In reality , however, Salim was engaged in a big interstate financial racket.

The youth made around a dozen calls every day and managed to convince on average two of the call recipients that that he was a bank executive. “Hi, this is Abdul calling on behalf of SBI,“ he would say . “Your debit card has been blocked due to some unauthorised transaction attempt. Please share the OTP which you have received on your number to confirm your identity .“

If victims got suspicious, he would win their trust by cautioning them not to share the ATM PIN with anyone and then coax them into reve aling the OTP .

According to Bhisham Singh, DCP (Crime), “During such a call, Salim would initiate an online transfer of funds from the victim's account, having acquired the account details illegally.The bank sent an OTP to the registered mobile number of the account holder. While on call, he manipulated the caller into parting with that OTP and siphoned funds from the account.“

The module Salim worked for had its tentacles across in India. “The money from a victim in Delhi, for example, would be received in bank accounts in Rajasthan and Punjab,“ Singh added.

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