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News: Gurugram gang steals fingerprints from registry papers to drain bank accounts-08-06-2021



GURUGRAM: A group of cybercrooks made hundreds of rubber clones of fingerprints, whose images they copied along with names and Aadhaar card numbers, from official property registration documents in a tehsil office at Palwal in south Haryana.

Police said the gang had, through a file binder working in the tehsil office, managed to make copies of more than 2,000 registration documents and used the information to create accounts in mobile wallets in the name of the people whose fingerprints were cloned and transfer money from their bank accounts into digital wallets, from where the frauds could re-route the cash elsewhere. By the time the account holder got intimated about the transfer through an SMS from the bank, the cash had already been withdrawn.
In an Aadhaar-enabled Payment System (AePS), for wallets that offer services like bill payment and money transfer, the Aadhaar number and fingerprint are enough for a transaction to be made. For this, however, the Aadhaar card must be linked to a bank account. Police said accounts were created on platforms like Payworld and Fingpay to transfer money by this group.

The investigation that led to the arrest of five people on Monday saw fast-paced developments over the past week with as many as 43 FIRs being registered at different police stations in Palwal as complaints of cash being drained from people’s bank accounts began pouring in. Most of the transactions happened between May 24 and June 2. A special investigation team (SIT) comprising officials of the crime branch and cyber police station was formed to investigate the case. The SIT said it made the five arrests – four men and a woman – from various parts of Palwal and Delhi.


The mastermind, 33-year-old Ghaziabad resident Rohit Tyagi, had earlier worked at a call centre and learnt to clone fingerprints from YouTube videos, police said.

Palwal SP Deepak Gehlawat told TOI, “The gang members tried to get registry papers from different tehsil offices and tried to strike a deal with government officials working at these offices but failed. Finally, they reached the tehsil office of Palwal and managed to get high-value registry papers from a private individual who used to do binding work of registry papers at the revenue office.”

Registry documents have Aadhar number and fingerprints of buyers and sellers. The gang made clones with the help of images of the fingerprints and used these invaluable pieces of rubber on biometric devices, which allowed the transactions to go through once the number and fingerprints matched.

“They carried out transactions through AePS. At one time, they could withdraw Rs 10,000 only from an account. So they carried out multiple transactions in a short span of time and withdrew large amounts from different accounts. The money was transferred to their bank accounts from these digital wallets,” said the SP.

Based on an FIR registered on June 2 at Hasanpur police station, the five accused were booked under sections 379 (theft) and 420 (cheating) of the IPC. On May 30 and 31, a total of Rs 83,400 was withdrawn from the account of Tekchand, the complainant. He went to his bank to inquire and got to know that a withdrawal was made through AePS using his Aadhar card and fingerprints. “I had never used this method for making withdrawals from accounts,” he said.

Tyagi, police said, studied computer applications in college. Chitranjan (28), a resident of Mayur Vihar, would bring the registry documents and take care of financial transactions of the gang. He has studied up to Class 10. Palwal resident Tularam (40) had a similar role. Aamir Husain (27), also a resident of Delhi, has no formal education and was a daily wager before joining the gang. All the fake Aadhar cards were made with his pictures. Kiran (28), a resident of Najafgarh in Delhi, is a graduate. She was responsible for transferring money from the e-wallets to different bank accounts.

Police found a biometric machine, 11 debit cards of different banks, 270 SIM cards, machines used for making rubber clones of fingerprints, five bottles of rubber gel, a laptop, a printer and a scanner, a lamination machine, 2,078 registry papers, of which 10 had been used for the fraud and 220 rubber fingerprint clones.

Of these, 34 fingerprint clones were used to withdraw Rs 23.45 lakh, police said.

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