The Kasaragod police have arrested a city resident in connection with a major online advance fee fraud.
Deputy Superintendent of Police (DySP), Manjeshwaram, M.P. Mohana Chandran identified the accused as Safil, 20, a resident of Neerazhi Lane, near Ulloor here. He is a second semester student of the Bachelor of Business Management course at Manipal.
In January, scores of online shoppers in Karnataka and Tamil Nadu lodged complaints, separately, to their respective law enforcements that they had not received the electronic commodities for which they had made advance online payments through an internet marketing site.
The website, which advertised electronic goods at less than market rates, had gone offline suddenly and the products it offered were never delivered to shoppers.
The police found that the payments were channelled to separate accounts in two public sector banks in North Kerala.
The money in the accounts, which totalled more than Rs.4 lakh, was seen withdrawn periodically through ATMs.
The Karnataka police arrested the account holder, Abdul Sunair Muneer, a resident of Hasangadi, near Manjeshwaram on the Kerala-Karnataka border. He pleaded innocence of the crime.
The Kerala police found that some other person had used a copy of Abdul’s driving licence to initiate the accounts. Bank officials told the police that the suspect had described himself as a student, whose guardians were in Europe. He was well mannered and articulate that the bank officials allowed him to start and subsequently operate the accounts without any outside reference.
Police said the bank officials had failed in even verifying whether the suspect resembled the photo on the driving licence copy he had presented as identity proof.
The police subsequently scanned the footage from surveillance cameras at the various ATMs from which the suspect had withdrawn money in the past few months. In most cases, the suspect had entered the counters with a baseball cap with its brim veiling most of his face. Subsequently, the police were able to get a correct image of the suspect, which facilitated his identification and arrest, investigators said.
The police said Safil was arrested in 2011 in connection with a similar fraud in Thiruvananthapuram.
He had allegedly stolen the identity of his classmate to create bank accounts and use them for online fraud. Subsequently, his parents compensated the complainants in a bid to persuade them to withdraw their complaints in a bid to give their son an opportunity to reform and a second chance to lead a normal life.