The modus operandi reportedly centered around manipulating fingerprints linked to Aadhaar cards via the Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System (AePS), enabling the gang to withdraw funds without the victims’ consent.
In a major breakthrough, Kadapa police arrested five individuals allegedly involved in a cybercrime syndicate operating within Andhra Pradesh. The gang is accused of orchestrating a sophisticated scheme that resulted in fraudulent transactions totaling Rs 5.9 crore from multiple bank accounts. Their modus operandi reportedly centered around manipulating fingerprints linked to Aadhaar cards via the Aadhaar-Enabled Payment System (AePS), enabling them to illicitly withdraw funds without the victims’ consent.
The accused have been identified as Nallagalla Venkateshu, Malla Ajay, Ganta Kalyan, Sheikh Jani, and Karumaleti Gopi, all hailing from Guntur and Prakasam districts. Reports suggest that one more suspect remains at large.
The investigation initiated in response to complaints from several individuals who reported unauthorized withdrawals from their bank accounts. One of the victims, S Shankaraiah, recounted an incident where Rs 5,500 had been discreetly withdrawn from his State Bank of India (SBI) account. He reported the incident to the police on December 7, 2022, and subsequently filed a complaint through the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP). Following this, the culprits’ bank accounts were frozen. Subsequently, the accused began threatening Sankaraiah to withdraw his complaint through a whatsapp call.
A dedicated investigative team was formed to tackle the case. Their efforts led them to trace the unlawful transactions back to the arrested individuals. The criminal operation involved procuring fingerprints, Aadhaar card data, and bank particulars from the black market. By utilising accomplices, they crafted counterfeit fingerprints to facilitate unauthorised withdrawals from victims’ accounts.
At a press conference, KKN Anburajan, Superintendent of Police in Kadapa district, disclosed that the syndicate’s activities extended beyond a single incident. Evidence indicated their involvement in multiple cases across the nation. The accused have been linked to a plethora of cases, encompassing four FIRs and 412 petitions submitted through the NCRP.
The police managed to trace financial transactions totaling 5.9 crore rupees across 12 bank accounts connected to the suspects. The investigation also yielded a significant find – an external hard disk containing over a lakh fingerprints, Aadhaar numbers, and other sensitive personal data from individuals residing in Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. Further evidence seized included items such as a polymer liquid bottle, photo static negative film featuring fingerprints, a biometric capturing machine, and more.
The police has urged citizens to be cautious and as an added security measure, they’ve advised individuals to biometrically lock their Aadhaar cards via the official website uidai.gov.in by integrating their biometrics with a one-time password (OTP).