Youth who used online tutorials to defraud Health Ministry held

Maitri Porecha New Delhi | Updated on December 06, 2019

Four youngsters behind ₹3.8-crore heist apprehended in Assam

The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Delhi police has traced an instance of fraud in the Union Health Ministry, running into ₹3.8 crore, to four youth based out of Assam. To pull off the heist, the four had allegedly misused the Ministry’s publicly available online video tutorials on how to navigate a public finance management system (PFMS).

“After the EOW informed the Ministry of Health that its online tutorial videos, meant for officials to get trained in PFMS, were being used to commit fraud, the Ministry pulled down the videos from the internet,” a senior EOW official told Businessline.

The accused — Noor Mohammed, Farid Ul Islam, Harun Rashid and Iman Farooq — are in their early 20s, the official added.

Last December, after ₹3.8 crore went missing from its coffers, the Health Ministry lodged an FIR with the EOW. For a couple of days, as the EOW investigated how the payment system was hacked and money withdrawn, most rooms of the ministry remained locked and electronic payment to States remained suspended.

Fake parallel identities

“The accused accessed videos online which were publicly available and created fake parallel identities of the Pay and Accounts Officer (PAO), Drawing and Disbursement Officer and Dealing Hand at the Pay and Accounts Office. False sanctions/bills were created and money was transferred digitally through Bank of Baroda to multiple accounts in different banks,” the official explained.

The ministry realised it was being duped when the PAO office was counter-checking digital bills against their physical hard copies. “It was realised that there was a misappropriation as the amounts in the digital and physical bills were not adding up,” said the official.

EOW sleuths tracked the mobile numbers used to operate the suspicious bank accounts and dispatched a team to Dighaliati village in Assam’s Morigaon district. “We recovered ₹19 lakh in cash from the accused’s house. The accused had withdrawn up to ₹35 lakh from the bank in the first two or three days. A Verna car was also recovered, which was bought with the proceeds of the crime. Also, ₹5-10 lakh was spent in organising a party by the accused,” another EOW official said.

The EOW was able to recover ₹2.5 crore of the ₹3.8-crore heist. “However, the recovered money is under the Patiala House court’s custody. All accused are now out on bail, but Noor Mohammed was picked up again by Cyber Crime Cell in another case,” the official added.

Published on December 06, 2019

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