Two held in account-hacking case

The city police have arrested two of the four persons accused of hacking into the bank account of a doctor here and siphoning off about Rs. 12 lakh.

K. Padmakumar, Inspector-General of Police, Ernakulam Range, told presspersons here on Thursday that Mirza Jaffar Baig, 28, alias Hameed, and Sheikh Rahan Ali, 34, alias Ettisham, had been arrested in Hyderabad. Mirza belonged to Agapura Nampally and Sheikh to Chanchanguda Bazaar in that city.

Mr. Padmakumar said the stolen money was transferred to 22 bank accounts in nine States and operated using 90 ATMs. The investigation had shown a nationwide network headed by a Nigerian, who was serving a sentence in the Alipore prison after the Kolkata Police arrested him in a similar case. The accused yet to be arrested are Mohammed Ali, 28, of Baba Nagar at Chandalgutta and Atta-ur-Rahman, 32, of Alhazanath Colony, Hyderabad.

Complaint

Shabir Khan R. Rawther, consultant at Lakeshore Hospital, had lodged a complaint with the police that Rs. 11,14,500 had been debited from his two accounts with the Rajaji Road branch of Axis Bank here. The drama began when his cellphone service provided by Vodafone was disconnected on March 30. On contacting the service provider, he learnt that a duplicate SIM card had been issued.

He got alerted to the fraud when Rs. 50,000 bounced back to his account while being transferred. By that time, he had lost Rs. 11.14 lakh. During investigation, it was found that the transfer was done using mobile banking, and the one-time passwords and alerts about withdrawals were sent to his duplicate SIM card for every transaction.

The police said that investigations showed that Mirza Jaffar Baig had secured the duplicate SIM card from a Vodafone showroom at Panchagutta in Hyderabad, using a forged copy of the driving licence of Dr. Rawther.

Based on the doctor’s complaint, nine teams were formed and sent to different States. The team that went to Hyderabad learnt that three cases were registered on similar charges at the Cyberabad police station there.

In an earlier case, the Kolkata police had arrested Felix Ivdubuisi Egedigave, 32, also known as David, of Nigeria from Puducherry, and the present crime was committed using the phone used by him then, as learnt from its IMEI number. It proved that even from the prison, he could control the group to commit the crime, Mr. Padmakumar said.

The four accused were directly involved in the forging of documents and transfer of Rs. 1.85 lakh through six ATM withdrawals and nine purchases. The city police are tracking other transactions as well. What is most alarming about this case is that it is still not sure where the money ended up. National agencies have been alerted to the crime through the State government, Mr. Padmakumar said. The police are investigating if the group has accomplices inside Vodafone and Axis Bank to gather information about Dr. Rawther’s account and bypass the multiple layers of security involved in an online transaction.

Mr. Padmakumar said that considering the uniqueness of the work and the efficiency shown by the investigation team, the Home Minister had agreed to announce rewards to its members, under Sunil Jacob, Assistant Commissioner of Police, Ernakulam; D.S. Suneesh Babu, Circle Inspector, Town Central; K.J. Francis Periera, sub-inspector, Cyber Cell, and A. Ananthalal, sub-inspector, Town Central.

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