The cyber crime police station of Sivaganga district has busted a Coimbatore-based gang involved in siphoning off money from bank accounts of gullible people with 18 persons and seized as many as 22,735 SIM cards.
A team of cyber crime police, led by Additional Superintendent of Police, Namasivayam, acted on a February 26 case of cheating a victim off a sum of ₹99,887.
The victim had clicked a link received as SMS on his phone under the guise of updating Know Your Customer form of a private bank.
He entered personal details on a fake Internet banking site with looks similar to that of the private bank. He also entered several One-Time Passwords received on the phone.
Later, he got an alert from the bank that ₹99,887 had been debited from his account.
The police found that the phone number that had sent the SMS to the victim was in the name of a person from Virudhunagar, but was active from a location in Coimbatore.
The police also found that the phone was switched off after remaining active for 5 to 10 minutes.
The International Mobile Equipment Identity (IMEI) of the mobile number revealed that 80 to 90 SIM cards were being used by the mobile phone in a day. These mobile numbers were used only to send SMS to several mobile numbers.
“We found that the mobile numbers were used to send bulk SMS and once a SIM had been used, the number is switched off and other mobile number is used through the same mobile device,” Mr. Namasivayam said.
Tracking the location, the Sivaganga district police reached Peelamedu where one Shikka Marketing company from Srinagar was operating.
The police found huge number of fake SIM cards, SMS sending softwares running in several laptops and desktop computers.
The company, run by a couple N. Saravanan (52) and Bharathi (48) of Veeriyapalayam Road, employed seven women and was paying them to send the messages.
The police seized 22,735 SIM cards, 11 laptops, 19 desktop computers, 292 mobile phones, 23 SIM modem boxes, and nine ATM cards with cheque books.
Interrogation of Mr. Saravanan revealed that one Syed Raghib Khursheed from Delhi had provided the fake links along with the mobile numbers to which the spam links were sent. He was paid based on the volume of SMS sent.
Mr. Saravanan and his wife had used SIM cards purchased from several persons.
The police have arrested 18 persons, including Mr. Khursheed from New Delhi. Others arrested, including women, were from Coimbatore, Tiruppur, Pollachi, Tiruchi, Thoothukudi, Tenkasi, and Tirunelveli.
Deputy Inspector General of Police (Ramanathapuram Range), M. Durai, and Sivaganga Superintendent of Police, S. Selvaraj, appreciated the team led by the ADSP in cracking the case.