Net fraud: Masterminds blocking SIMs are abroad

Times News Network

      New Delhi: The net banking fraud in which bank accounts are emptied after a person’s sim card gets deactivated is the handiwork of a gang and the masterminds are some foreign-based computer experts who hack into people’s account through phishing, an online fraud. The foreign nationals were getting 35% of the amount while the ones who opened the bank accounts under a fake name were being given up to 50%. The rest of the amount was being divided between the foot soldiers.

     The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Delhi Police arrested two people in this regard and they spilled the beans. “The gang would procure details of bank accounts of the victims to gain access through internet and transfer money to other accounts. Usually, the sim card of the victim’s mobile would also be deactivated by the gang fraudulently during the time of the transactions,” said Sandeep Goyal, joint CP, EOW. Those arrested are Mirza Ali alias Sanjay Soni(39)of Maharashtra and Pritam Mishra (27) of Ghaziabad.

     “A complaint about an unauthorized transaction was receivedfrom Dr VijayKher, a resident of Defence Colony. He alleged that a person had transferred Rs 20 Lakh from his account through fraudulent online transactions on October 19. His mobile phone had also got inactive during this period. He said he came to know about the cheating after he re-activated his phone and received a message from his bank,” Goyal said.

      A probe revealed that a large numbers of account holders in different banks in Delhi and other cities had been cheated by this gang. An elaborate investigation through IP address logs and other clues, along with discreet enquiries, led the police to identify the suspects.

    The modus  operandi was simple: the fraudsters would submit an application to the service provider to block the sim and a duplicate sim wouldbeissuedin placeofthe original one. After activating the duplicate sim,the accused would access the account of the victim on internet using the details already available with them like user id and password.
At the time of request of transaction for transfer of money, the bank would automatically generate a onetime-password (OTP) which would be received through SMS on the duplicate sim. The rest was simple.


Starvation Amidst Plenty

Food bowl overflowing, but 25% of population still hungry


     T he Indian government is sitting on one of world’s biggest hoards of food grains, about 667 lakh tons as of January 1, 2013. This is not some bizarre seasonal twist – monthly stocks of food grains averaged over 671 lakh tons for the whole of last year, including an all time high of 802 lakh tons in June. Just five years ago, in 2008, the food grains stock was 192 lakh tons in January. Since then, it has zoomed up by almost 250% to the present level.

       Government rules say that a buffer stock of 200 lakh tons and a strategic reserve of 50 lakh tons need to be maintained. But current stocks are more than two and a half times this benchmark.

      This would be a matter of celebration except that even as food grain stocks keep piling up, hunger and malnutrition continue to haunt a quarter of the population, over 200 million people, according to various estimates. Last year, India was ranked 65th in a list of 79 countries where serious hunger and malnutrition persists, made by the International Food Policy Research Institute. With over 43% babies suffering malnutrition, on this count alone India is ranked below Ethiopia and Bangladesh. So how come a mountain of life-giving grain is surrounded by a sea of hungry humanity? The reasons can be found in a mix of subsidy cutting government policy, bureaucratic bumbling, corruption and even profiteering, say experts .

      Successive bumper harvests since 2006, and better prices offered by the government procurement agencies have created these stocks. In April-March 2012, a record 380 lakh tons wheat was procured, while rice procurement during October 2011-September 2012, was also 350 lakh tons.

      So that explains the huge stocks. But why can’t it be distributed to the millions who need it? The government insists that it can only distribute food grain through its targeted public distribution system, fixed amounts, at low prices to those BPL, and at higher prices to those above poverty line.

        There are many problems with this approach, points out Biraj Patnaik, principal adviser to the Commissioners of the Supreme Court who are assisting the SC in tracking government policy.

        “The number of BPL families is based on projection for the year 2000 based on the 1991 Census. So their figures are off by 8-10 crore. We are trying to persuade them to adopt the 2011 population data,” he says.

        The committee headed by justice Wadhwa to suggest reforms in the public distribution system confirms this pointing out that the population of India was projected at 99cr in 2000 whereas in 2012 it is 122cr.

     The poverty line itself is a matter of serious dispute because it is pegged at Rs. 18 in urban areas and Rs. 12 in rural areas per person per day. Many families that are technically above the poverty line are so poor that they can’t afford the wheat and rice offered by the government.

         The most obvious solution is distribution to everybody. Economist Jean Dreze, a member of the NAC, sees the excess stock as a “great opportunity” to consolidate the Public Distribution System under the National Food Security Act. He said, “ It could be used to facilitate the transition to a more inclusive if not universal PDS within a few years.”

        The government, however, is not comfortable with this idea. And so, the warehouses will remain full in the months to come.