A school dropout from a village in India executed one of the biggest bank frauds in the country

A school dropout from a village in India executed one of the biggest bank frauds in the country

  • 35-year-old Ram Kumar Mandal recruited and trained around 200 people to pose as bank executives who would call their targets and get them to reveal their personal bank details.
  • Mandal is class X dropout trained in cellphone repairing.
  • The fraudster has 20 bank accounts with ₹3,00,000 ($4426) in them transferred from various e-wallets. He also has money invested in silver and gold jewellery.

A man from a nondescript village in Jharkhand, India, managed to dupe over a hundred thousand people of as many rupees by executing an elaborate vishing (voice phishing) racket.

Vishing is a kind of fraud wherein a person posing to be from a reputable organisation calls you and asks you for your personal bank details, and uses that information for dubious purposes. This is exactly what your bank is warning you against when it sends you emails and texts announcing that bank employees will never ask for personal details.

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35-year-old Ram Kumar Mandal recruited and trained around 200 people from Karmatar village, near the Jharkhand-West Bengal border, to pose as bank executives who would call their targets under various pretexts and essentially get them to reveal their personal bank details, including their credit/bank account number, CVV number, card expiry date, secure password, ATM pin, internet banking details and password, and even the one-time-password (OTP) customers get to validate transactions.

Some of the sneaky pretexts these ‘executives’ gave included their desire to ‘help’ the customer reactivate their account or card, redeem their reward points and even to link their bank accounts to their Aadhar cards, India’s new unique identification system for citizens.

Once the crooks got their targets to divulge this information they used it to make online transactions. The calls were made to people all over the country, including metro cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Goa.

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Cops got wind of the racket while investigating a case registered at Delhi’s Anand Vihar police station by a woman who alleged that someone had syphoned off ₹1.9 lakh from her bank account. The woman told the police that someone claiming to be an RBI official offered to help her link her Aadhaar card and asked her to divulge her OTP. Promptly after she revealed the number, she realised the money had been transferred to an e-wallet.

“A team led by DCP Nupur Prasad was formed to track the source from where the e-wallet was being operated. One group was tasked with finding the location from where the e-wallet was being accessed, while others were trying to trace the operator,” Ravindra Yadav, joint commissioner, eastern range told the Times of India.

The police also said that Mandal’s gang had been operating with the help of the militant Maoist groups for the past four years.

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Upon finding accounts to which an e-wallet was linked, cops managed to block the account and get ₹40,000 back in the woman’s account as the e-wallet company had a provision of reverting a transaction within 24 hours of a case being reported. Cops said that the rest of the amount was used to pay an electric company.

The owner of the wallet account, Surendra Singh who was detained by the cops further revealed that money was transferred to the e-wallet by a man called Shabir Ali, who lives in his neighbourhood. Singh would collect cash from his customers and pay their bills through the e-wallet and Ali would later take the cash from Singh after paying a 5% commission.

Apparently, Ali would then deposit this cash into his bank account and then transfer the amount to someone called Mukesh through his e-wallet account and this account was also accessed by the kingpin Mandal, who happens to be a school dropout trained in cellphone repairing. This elaborate and confusing trail is what kept Mandal from getting caught all this while, especially because none of these accounts was his own.

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Mandal, the mastermind behind this plot, used the money to pay his ‘recruitees’ and buy electronic products online. Mandal was so sharp that even the products he bought with the swindled money were not delivered to his home. Instead, they would be delivered to the homes of people who rented houses from his relatives in Delhi and Mumbai. According to the police, Mandal owns 20 bank accounts that had ₹3,00,000 ($4426) in them transferred from the e-wallets. He also has money invested in silver and gold jewellery.
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