Jamtara, a small town in Jharkhand, is the epicentre of cyber crime in India according to a 2017 report by The Hindu.
Hardly known for its connection to the great reformer Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, the place is now a hub for investigating police officers coming from different states.
Recently, Netflix released a docudrama – Jamtara: Sabka Number Ayega – on the whole vishing (phone related scams duping people using their bank details) scam, revisiting places and recreating characters to make people understand this evil form of cyber crime.
And, watching the 10 episodes of the first season gave us a complete idea about how vishing works and the damage these con-artists can cause to individuals even without coming out of their cramped houses.
Giving us an elaborate understanding on the entire network of vishing the series focuses on a group of boys, mostly teenagers, handling the entire system within Jamtara.
In a city where growing up in poverty was not an option but the only condition, the bunch of kids realize vishing and conning people via mobile phones are the only way out of all their problems and past burdens.
The series, with a gripping plot, is understood to have been meticulously written based on true events.
Centrally revolving around Sunny Mondal and Rocky (two brothers leading a team of teenage conmen), the series is more like a cat-and-mouse chase between them and the new SP of Jamtara, Dolly Sahu.
Through these rooted characters, the makers of Jamtara have justified the scenic depiction of a small town and how it became notorious for 80% of all the vishing cases reported across India.
But the reality is far more depressing if you revisit the official data, revealing the crackdown on such individuals in the last 4-5 years.
Divided between the border of West Bengal and Jharkhand, areas like Kala Jharia and Jamtara appear normal from outside.
Until one peeks into the grave reality of a state that has 58.7% unemployed individuals and over 70% working as poor agricultural workers.
Something as simple as conning innocent people by extracting their personal debit card/credit card information looks very appealing on-screen.
But Jamtara is an actual place and vishing has become a real threat to people of all age groups majorly because of various gangs operating here since 2014.
With modulation and voice changing equipment, these young criminals can target anyone and everyone. From a Union Minister’s Secretary to a well-educated and experienced doctor, everyone was fooled by one such fake call.
For a fake call to be successful, all the caller needs is an individual’s card details along with the secret 3-digit CVV number.
For someone who is simply unaware of anything like this striking them, the next few hours are all about panic and confusion.
When such cases became regular and the victims are powerful people in powerful positions, the clock starts ticking faster.
After an initial crackdown in 2014, records reveal that policemen from several states visited the town 23 times between 2015 and 2017 and made 38 arrests.
Moreover 80 cases were also registered between this period against 330 residents of the area in Jharkhand.
In 2015, a joint operation team arrested two brothers Pradip Mondal and Pradyuman Mondal from Sambalpur, Odisha after they repeatedly withdrew huge sums of money from a bank nearby.
The suspicion soon turned into a full-fledged battle for the Police to nab the remaining gang-members and bust the entire racket in Jharkhand.
But it was only in June, 2015 that the police started understanding the complex modus operandi, which raked in lakhs of rupees every month.
Subsequently, more arrests were made in the next 2 years in Jharkhand.
After effectively raiding small houses, the police understood the scale of all operations in Jamtara and how well equipped these conmen were.
Krishna Dutt Jha, who was the officer in charge in 2017, disclosed his team seized over 70 LED TVs, three washing machines, 40 ATM cards, 80 bank passbooks, 200 mobile phones and ₹9.28 lakh in cash since 2015.
In the coming years, the technology of tracing calls benefited the cops who busted dozens of fake call-centers (used as the location to call and dupe people) eliminating a few gangs involved.
But Jamtara vehemently addresses the fear of being cheated, duped or conned by using simple techniques leaving us thinking about how vulnerable we are with all the technology around us.
Starting with 4 cases in 2013, 7 cases in 2014 and 12 cases in 2015, the crime record rose sharply in Jamtara.
Cases in and around Jamtara since then have increased by a 257% and the police crackdown continues but with limited or little success.
Before the release of this show, not many people would’ve realized the potential threat they face every day because of such scammers around.
But now we know it is very much for real.