Fraudsters cheat people using information of inmates

Laptop, SIM cards and other things recovered from the fraudsters
Prothom Alo

“This is jailor speaking, your father is incarcerated in Barishal jail. The government is freeing some inmates and your father is one of them. His inmate number is 71. Now send Tk 40,000 and I will secure release for your father.” This call made Md Mozammel so elated that he sold ornaments of his wife and borrowed some money to give it to the ‘jailor’.

But once he sent the amount to two numbers through the Mobile Financial Service (MFS), he understood he had been duped.  

One of the two numbers Mozammel sent the money to was not of the fraudsters. That number was registered with an old woman at a remote village in Rajshahi’s Godagari.

The police officials investigating the case said the frauds used that number in another incident of fraudulence by taking control of the Imo number of a Malaysia expatriate. The frauds collected the number in connivance with staff of a MFS company.

Mirpur police station investigated two cases of fraudulence by taking information of jail inmates and hacking Imo accounts. The one case related to hacking of the Imo account was filed in August last year.

The other case over deceiving the son of the inmate was filed in May. Mirpur police arrested seven members of the gang from different parts of Chattogram and Cox’s Bazar.

The arrested persons are Sabbir Karim Ahammed, 37, Jobayer Alam, 36, Moktar Hossain, 25, Antu Dey, 22, Rabiul Islam, 25, Fazlul Karim Nahid, 34, and Md Anik, 25.

Police said they have recovered over 200 SIM cards from them.

Hasan Muhammad Muhtarim, assistant commissioner of Mirpur division, told Prothom Alo that some agents of two MFS companies had collected information from people using various tricks and later opened fake accounts using the information. Later they sold these accounts to the frauds who subsequently used these numbers for cheating.

Information of inmates

Mozammel’s father Forkan Peda has been in jail for 12 years in a murder case. Hearing his father would be released after all those years, Mozammel sent Tk 40,000 in two numbers provided by the ‘jailor’. After sending the money, Mozammel found the numbers switched off. He realized of being duped.

Mozammel is from Taktabunia village in Barguna’s Amtoli. He lives with wife and two sons in Mirpur. Mozammel had to take responsibility of the family at a young age as his father landed in jail. He started pulling a rickshaw in Dhaka. Mozammel said he sold ornaments of his wife and borrowed some money in a bid to free his father from jail. He is yet to pay the full amount of loan.

Investigators said effort is on to unearth how the information of the inmates is being leaked to the frauds. The person who calls the family members of inmates identifying himself as a jailor has been identified. The person is Torab Uddin from Lemshakhali village in Cox’s Bazar’s Kutubdia. He is the uncle of arrested Anik.  

Transaction data of 24 MFS accounts recovered from Anik revealed that around Tk 25 million was transacted in the last six months.

Transactions worth millions without cognizance of owners

Police started investigating the case filed by Mozammel in May. The investigation revolved around two numbers provided in the case statement. At one point, police found the number of an MFS account. It was revealed that a huge amount of money is coming in to this number from different parts of the country. Further investigation revealed that the MFS account was registered in the name of an old woman who lives in a remote village in Godagari.

The investigators then headed to the village of that woman. She said agents of MFS company took the photograph of her National Identity card and Eyeris by giving her a kilogram of soybean oil. The agents told the woman that a food scarcity is looming in the country and she would regularly be provided with rice, lentils and oil.

Police said agents of MFS companies collect personal data of common people and open their account, luring them of providing different benefits. Later these accounts go to the frauds.

Mirpur police station’s officer-in-charge Mohammad Mohsin told Prothom Alo that the network of this fraud gang is spread all over the country. They have already opened thousands of MFS accounts and cheated millions of taka from people.