CUTTACK: The City police on Friday arrested three members of an organised racket which collected huge amounts of extortion money by making ransom calls from international numbers.
As many as 104 ATM cards were seized from the accused during the raid which was conducted following a tip-off by Chhattisgarh police. Investigation revealed that the racketeers had collected Rs10 lakh from an elderly woman of Rajnandgaon by an extortion call that appeared to have been made from a Pakistan number.
All the money collected from various persons were being deposited in fake bank account numbers and one such account led police to Cuttack’s CDA area.
Basing on information from Rajnandgaon police that extortion money was trailed to an account opened in the name of Sonu Singh, a resident at CDA, a team of Markatnagar police raided the house located in Sector 9 and apprehended a youth, who was later identified as Dhiraj Kumar Rao, a native of West Champaran district in Bihar.
Rao, a B Tech graduate from a Bhubaneswar-based engineering college, had been residing in the rented house. Later, police verified that Sonu Singh was the fake identity Rao had adopted to open the bank account. It was the photograph attached in the bank document which exposed his fraud.
IIC of Markat Nagar police station Debendra Nath Biswal said Rao was part of the racket that indulged in making extortion calls. Other members were assigned different works such as information gathering, issue of threats for ransom and collection of the extortion money through fake bank accounts.
During search, police recovered Rs 54,900 apart from the ATM cards of different banks from Rao’s possession. Later, basing on Rao’s confession, Markat Nagar police arrested two more members, including Swapna Sajit Pradhan of Puri and Janmenjay Das of Kendrapara. Pradhan and Das are working as technician and accountant respectively at a hospital in CDA and had opened fake bank accounts to siphon off the extortion money on commission basis.
Rao confessed to have received extortion money amounting to Rs 50 lakh but police suspect the actual volume could be more as he had got the elderly woman to deposit Rs10 lakh in his bank account towards ransom by making a phone call that came from a Pakistan number. When Rao demanded more ransom, she lodged a complaint with Rajnandagaon police. The accused trio has been handed over to Chhattisgarh police, Biswal informed.