The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has started a probe into the accumulation of huge properties by online fraudsters of Jamtara , widely dubbed as the country’s cybercrime capital, following a request from Jharkhand police.
“We had reported to the ED about 14 such people, who did not have apparently any known source of income, yet they boasted of immoveable properties, upper middle class would envy of. The ED has already begun a probe. Action has been taken against two persons, and three others would soon be taken to task. The agency is in the process of rounding up others,” Jamtara Superintendent of Police Deepak Kumar Sinha told The Hindu over phone.
He said, “we are keeping a close watch on these swindlers. Some people have amassed immoveable properties in their names while others in someone else’s name to evade action by law enforcement agencies.”
“In addition to the 14 names, another list of 12 people has been prepared and would soon be handed over to ED for further probe,” Mr. Sinha said.
The initial investigation by Jamtara district police has found that criminals have bought vehicles, shops and residential houses in the names of other people. Many of them have not even passed matriculation but have learnt tricks of manipulation with technical advice from experts for executing white-collar crimes.
“As part of our drive, we focus on certain properties held by suspects, subsequently we verify who possess them and if we find traces of ill-gotten wealth, we intensify our investigation. Income Tax department will also be kept in the loop,” said Jamtara police chief.
Police have detected properties worth ₹2 crore belonging to one of persons whose name figures in the list referred to the ED. “But, as per our estimate, his total wealth would not be less than ₹10 crore,” said Mr. Sinha.
After the district police turned its focus on tracking properties accumulated by the fraudsters, some of them reportedly bought flats, hotels and plots outside Jharkhand to dodge local police. “This is where ED would do justice to the investigation process,” said the Jamtara SP.
Jamtara has earned the dubious distinction of being the cybercrime capital of the country with the youth finding online fraud as a source of earning quick money. They have mastered phishing by operating from remote locations and putting them out of sight of the law enforcement agencies. Over the past several years, police from many States have visited Jamtara in search of such fraudsters.
“Of late, these criminals have changed the modus operandi . They have started shifting their base to West Bengal, New Delhi and other places. What you need for such operations is a mobile phone and good internet connectivity. Another requirement is space from where one can operate. While some criminals are taking rented accommodations, some are buying flats instantly,” said the Jamtara SP.
During the past one year, 300 people involved in cybercrime have been caught and sent to jail in Jamtara and the police have a list of 1,200 fraudsters.