Giridih in Jharkhand has earned the sobriquet of “Cyber Zone”, as have Deogarh and Jamtara in that state. But the appellation does not signify digital revolution; it reflects the emergence of these places as the hubs of cyber crime. For instance, in Giridih, Binsmi village has 1,000 dwellings and is home to about 900 cyber cheats.
Cyber cell officials of the Ahmedabad crime branch had recently searched these areas to nab Mohammed Jilani Ansari who had cheated people across 15 states using a couple of cellphones. Ahmedabad cops were bemused when local police personnel assisting them announced that they were entering the Cyber Zone. “We had kept the operation a top secret,” a senior Ahmedabad Police official said.
“However, when we were about to enter Binsmi village, a Jharkhand cop asked us whether we were looking for an online scamster. When we said yes, the Jharkhand cop murmured, “Cyber Zone mein aur kis ko khojoge? (Who else will you look for in the Cyber Zone).”
For Ansari, Gujarat was the favourite hunting ground. But he has also extracted money from people in Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Punjab. “He made about 200 calls a day. Every 10 to 15 calls, he managed to persuade the victim to give the ATM card number, the CVV number, and the one-time password,” said a crime branch official. “He used the information to transfer money from the victim’s bank account to one the 34 e-wallets he had created with 10 different email IDs.”
Local police cannot do much about people like Ansari. No case is registered against them. “They cheat people in other states,” a cyber cell official said. As for the Ahmedabad cyber cell’s operation in Jharkhand, officials said there were moments of anxiety because they were not far from Naxalite-hit areas. “Once we picked up Ansari, we came to know that almost every house in these areas has a cyber crook,” a cyber cell official said.
According to crime branch officials in Ahmedabad, Jilani has revealed that the kingpin of the online fraud racket in Jharkhand is Tiku Mandal, who heads a gang of 14.
“He provides them sim cards and transfers money from their e-wallets to his bank account. He then gives them cash after deducting his commission,” a cyber cell official said. However, it will be tough to nab Mandal, officials said. “No one knows where he lives. He pays a visit once a week to his gang members to collect money and then vanishes,” the crime branch official said. “We are planning a major operation in Jharkhand to nab him.”