The City Police have arrested four members of a gang on charges of collecting money from people’s representatives by making spoof calls in the name of Personal Assistants to Chief Minister Y.S. Jagan Mohan Reddy and TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu.
The police have recovered ₹5.80 lakh in cash, 28.22 gm of gold, 19.24 gm of silver and several cellphones from the accused.
The accused were identified as P. Vishnu Murthy (27), a B. Tech dropout and son of an ASI; G. Tarun Kumar, a rowdy-sheeter from Vadlapudi; P. Jaya Krishna (24), a resident of Peda Gantyada; and M. Jagadeesh (24) of Sriharipuram.
The gang had allegedly made phone calls to Vizianagaram MP B. Chandrasekhar, former MP Murali Mohan, Vizag East MLA V. Rama Krishna Babu, Vizag South MLA Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar, YSRCP leader K.K. Raju, Tuni MLA Dadisetty Raja, former MLA Bandaru Satyanaraya Murthy and many others.
“On May 7 and June 6, the gang made calls and managed to collect ₹25 lakh from former MLA Bandaru Satyanarayana Murthy and ₹10 lakh from Palasa MLA S. Appala Raju,” City Police Commissioner Mahesh Chandra Laddha told the media here.
The main accused Vishnu Murthy, Mr. Laddha said, reportedly learnt spoofing from ‘dark web’ and collected contact numbers of MLAs, MPs and other people’s representatives.
“The accused would spoof a phone number and the display in the receiver’s phone would flash any number chosen by them. Vishnu Murthy would ensure that the victims believe that he was the PA to CM and demand money through WhatsApp messages. The message would include that the CM was busy,” Mr. Laddha said.
The gang started making such calls in April last year, but had failed many a time. In December 2018, they demanded money from YSRC leader K.K. Raju and Visakhapatnam MP M.V.V. Satyanarayana, impersonating Mr. Jagan’s PA. Suspecting foul play, the leaders did checks and the gang fled without collecting money, the police said.
Acting on complaints lodged by Mr. Vasupalli Ganesh Kumar, Mr. Satyanaraya Murthy in Visakhapatnam, and a few others in Srikakulam and Hyderabad, the Cyber Crime Police launched a probe and nabbed the accused.
“During probe, the police teams had verified 512 Internet Protocol logs, 75,000 phone numbers, 8,732 tower Ids to trace the numbers of Vishnu Murthy. It almost took one and a half month,” Mr Laddha said.