Two brothers, Noor Hassan and Mohammed Iftekhar, residents of Lakhe in the Hazaribagh Muftasil police station area, cheated 200 people who deposited a total of Rs 34,87,000 in PNB and Rs 17,00,701 in Union Bank to help patients of the global pandemic of coronavirus disease (COVID). The crooks would transfer this amount to different accounts.
The managers of the two banks grew suspicious of the accounts and reported the discrepancies to the police headquarters on 9 April. A case of cheating by these sons of a certain Mohammed Serajuddin came to light when the police went to the address of the real holder of the account.
Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar’s modus operandi
While Noor Hassan and Mod Iftekhar have been arrested and are being interrogated, their accomplice Parmeshwar Kumar, a resident of Oria in Jharkhand, is on the run.
Noor and Iftekhar had opened two fake accounts in PNB’s Burrabazar branch on 13 January and Union Bank on 31 March, passing them off as mediums of donating to PM-CARES that the government has launched as a relief fund to fight COVID,
Police are investigating how Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar cheated more than 200 people of Rs 51 lakh. The accounts to which the money was transferred from these fake accounts have been frozen.
Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar opened a website pmindia.gov, faking PM-CARES, and bank accounts. As the money received in these fake accounts was being frequently transferred to other accounts, the banks grew suspicious.
The crooks’ website resembled that of the government (pmindia.gov.in) tantalisingly. Appealing to the people for help, Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar would send a link to people desirous of extending help to COVID victims. The link sent the money via the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) identity to the accounts of these crooks instead of going to the government.
The government has now shut down the fake website that had the URL pmindia.gov.
In the raids conducted on the premises of Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar, police recovered a car, 10 debit cards from eight different banks, 12 passbooks and other documents including cheques. All money has been withdrawn from these accounts or transferred to other accounts.
The recovered passbooks are in the name of Vikas Kumar Sharma, Kashina Khatoon, Sonu Prasad, Parmeshwar Kumar, Iftekhar etc. Their accounts are in the banks of Ramgarh, Ranchi and Hazaribagh. Police suspect that Noor, Iftekhar and Parmeshwar were cheating on a large scale.
The crooks’ fake accounts were numbered as follows:
Union Bank: 5391020109587423
Older cases of fraud with PM CARES
In March-end, the State Bank of India had encountered crooks of a similar kind in Delhi. A fake UPI address was found registered under the name of “PM Care Fund”. A bank official said they received an online complaint about a UPI address “[email protected]”. The ID was created to receive donations and the matter was then raised with State Bank of India following which they blocked it immediately, he said, adding that the correct UPI ID is “[email protected]”.
However, rather than catch the crooks in a systematic way, the SBI had to be told about this fraud by a Twitter user. Realising the flaw in its system, SBI had tweeted: “Thank you for notifying us about this Fraud UPI ID. We have immediately alerted our UPI team and they are on the job to block the same. We sincerely appreciate your alertness (sic).”
DCP of Delhi Police’s cybercrime department then released a list of potential “dangerous” websites exploiting the interest and panic around coronavirus. The list had 13 fraudulent websites like coronavirusstatus[.]space, coronavirus-map[.]com and blogcoronacl.canalcero[.]digital, among others.
Genuine PM CARES account & how to donate
- Visit the official website pmindia.gov.in
- Click on the “Menu” option.
- Tap on PM’s Fund Section.
- Under the PM’s Fund section click on PM-CARES Fund.
- Go on to click on “Domestic Donations.”
- Enter the credentials.
- Then click on “Review and Generate OTP.”
- Finally enter the OTP and submit it.
For direct payments, pay to:
Name of the Account: PM CARES
Account Number: 2121PM20202
IFSC Code: SBIN0000691
SWIFT Code: SBININBB104