Police track dangerous trend of people trading off control of their bank accounts for a quick buck

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The Ernakulam rural police were in for a rude shock while interrogating an accused recently nabbed in connection with an online fraud in which a 63-year-old from Aluva was cheated of ₹1.15 crore.

It was found, the police say, that Ashwin, 25, one of the accused from Kozhikode, had sold access to his bank account to the racket behind the online fraud for a mere ₹15,000. The police traced transactions worth lakhs of rupees through the account about which he neither had any clue nor could give any logical explanation. Worse, he was found to have opened another account using the credentials of his mother-in-law and sold off that too in a similar manner, according to the police.

Not less than 60 such bank accounts were found compromised in such a manner in the Ernakulam district, half of which had been traced to Ernakulam rural police limits and were being probed.

“This has emerged as a surprising and dangerous new trend in Kerala as this was earlier found mostly flourishing in Eastern and Northern India. Keralites were found to be particularly law abiding and circumspect in such matters, The magnitude of the problem is not yet clear and I hope that it hasn’t yet assumed mammoth proportions,” said Vaibhav Saxena, District Police chief (Ernakulam Rural).

It is suspected that illegal rackets maybe tracking digital footprint to zero in on vulnerable persons who were open to such patently illicit trade off for some easy bucks. Mr. Saxena cited numerous mobile apps, which demand all kind of permissions while being installed and users who are not that highly digitally literate acceding to that. These users may also get trapped by clicking on spurious links thus exposing their activities on digital devices to fraudsters.

The account holders who resort to such trade off give the mobile number of those who had purchased the account for contact and the illegal operators completely take over those account giving them access to One Time Passwords for online transactions leaving the original account holders completely in the dark about the transactions through their accounts.

Money could be funnelled through such accounts for all sorts of nefarious activities and when tracked down the original account holders are left in the lurch facing the brunt of the enforcement agencies.

“The good thing is that the functioning of the cyber crime reporting helplines are now really prompt enabling enforcement agencies to intervene at the earliest and track down the racket. The formation of a dedicated cyber division by the Kerala police could not also have come at a more appropriate time,” said Mr. Saxena.

The Ernakulam rural police have also formed a pool of cyber security volunteers to help disseminate information about the latest forms of cybercrimes among the public.

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