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RPF arrests 7 more persons in e-ticket scam

New Delhi, Feb 18 (IANS) Cracking its whip on illegal ticket softwares, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) claimed on Tuesday that it has arrested seven people, including a Kolkata-based mastermind who was in touch with Bangladesh-based terror outfit Jammat-Ul-Mujahideen Bangladesh (JUMB).

Addressing a press conference, RPF Director General Arun Kumar said, “Recently we arrested seven people, including Kolkata-based Jayanta Poddar, who was in touch with JUMB operatives.”

He said Poddar, a resident of Nadia in West Bengal, was the lead seller of the illegal ANMS software and was in contact with cattle smugglers, hawala operators, fake currency operators and fake passport and Aadhaar card makers.

The RPF DG said that during probe it was found that Poddar transferred money through Smart Shop, a mobile wallet owned by Hermes I-Ticket Ltd.

Kumar said during questioning that Poddar gave further leads that Hermes had transactions worth crore with two other companies — Sifa Enterprises (about Rs 5 crore) and WiFi Solutions owned by Rajesh Yadav, which showed transactions worth Rs 23 crore.

“With the lead from Poddar, we arrested Yadav from Mumbai. He was the fund manager and worked for Shamsher, who owned Sifa Enterprises,” Kumar said.

After the arrest of Poddar and Yadav, we arrested Shamsher from Lucknow, Kumar said, adding that he had started working with Hamid Ashraf, a Dubai-based man suspected to be one of the masterminds of the racket.

Shamsher even cornered crores of rupees for his personal consumption and owned a school, trucks, earth moving machines, flats etc.

“Shamsher even betrayed Ashraf and got his school bombed in 2019,” the RPF officer claimed.

The DG said that with further leads, the RPF arrested Satyawan Upadhyay, a developer by profession, who developed the illegal MAC software for ticket touts.

“Updahyay had sold his MAC software to over 235 sellers across the country,” Kumar said, adding that Updadhyay had transferred Rs 2 crore to Ashraf between April 2018 and March 2019.

“Following the lead that we got after the arrest of Upadhyay, we identified over 4,493 tickets procured through MAC valued at Rs 1.3 crore,” he said.

“Later we arrested two more persons from Ahmedabad and Surat — Danny Shah and Amit Prajapati, respectively — and recovered 8,569 tickets worth Rs 2.59 crore,” Kumar said.

The RPF had earlier booked over 47,795 tickets worth Rs 7.94 crore, he said.

Making more revelations on the illegal nexus, the RPF officer said, “We have also arrested Priyajit from Shillong, a panel seller and also a member of a WhatsApp group named “Pakistan Zindabad”.

He further said that the RPF also ran a drive against IRCTC agents on February 11 and 12, and arrested 319 agents besides identifying 317 IDs for blacklisting.

Kumar said that after the crackdown on ANMS and MAC softwares, all other illegal softwares are currently not working and the passengers are easily getting confirmed Tatkal tickets from the IRCTC website.

When asked how many persons have been arrested till date in connection with the e-ticket scam, Kumar said since December last year, 60 people have been nabbed.

In one of the biggest crackdowns on train ticketing touts in recent times, the RPF has arrested a madrassa-educated, self-taught software developer from Jharkhand and claimed to have busted an e-ticketing racket with suspected links to terror funding and money laundering.

The scam’s mastermind was based in the UAE, officials said.

Ghulam Mustafa was arrested from Bhubaneswar earlier this year and two laptops with the ANMS software were recovered from him by the RPF.

The scamsters also converted the collected money into cryptocurrencies and through shadow net sent them abroad, which were allegedly used in “terror funding and money laundering,” Kumar said.

–IANS

aks/arm

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