Touts use illegal software, lure youngsters, railway cyber team on alert

In 2022, a Vellore-based agency was exposed for using multiple software programs to bypass the IRCTC booking limit, with similar cases reported from Bihar, Mumbai, and other locations.
In 2022, the Tiruchy railway division apprehended 75 individuals for touting, with the number rising to 76 in 2023.
In 2022, the Tiruchy railway division apprehended 75 individuals for touting, with the number rising to 76 in 2023. (Representative image)

TIRUCHY: Train travel remains the least expensive way to traverse India, but securing a confirmed ticket, especially during holidays, is often challenging. Touting activities significantly contribute to this issue, as highlighted by the Tiruchy Railway Division, which has exposed numerous touting rackets over the years.

In 2022, the Tiruchy railway division apprehended 75 individuals for touting, with the number rising to 76 in 2023. Up to June this year, 38 people have already been caught. Sources indicate that 20 to 30 percent of those caught are aged 25 to 40.

"Whenever we notice suspicious activity from any IP address, our team is put on alert and touts are caught. Agents use illegal software to bypass the e-ticket booking limit. Many young offenders are unaware of the consequences," said Dr Abishek, senior security commissioner of Tiruchy railway division.

Travel agents are frequently caught using illegal software for bulk bookings. In 2022, a Vellore-based agency was exposed for using multiple software programs to bypass the IRCTC booking limit, with similar cases reported from Bihar, Mumbai, and other locations.

Agents often recruit youngsters by claiming to possess advanced military-grade software that can bypass any security measures. In 2023, a railway cyber team placed Titwala East in Mumbai under 24-hour surveillance, busting a major racket. Southern Railway's team has used similar strategies to dismantle rackets across South India.

TNIE spoke to a college student who was caught for touting. "One can book only six tickets at a time using an IRCTC ID. I used to work part-time under a travel agent, using multiple IDs and a software to bypass the IRCTC limit. Agents assured us that their software, in use for several years, was foolproof, but we were caught by railway intelligence," the student, who is currently out on bail, said.

Punishment for touting includes imprisonment up to three years, a fine of `10,000, or both. However, judges often avoid jailing youngsters, considering their future, a source said.

MS Anbalagan, Tiruchy divisional railway manager, said, "Youngsters should not believe claims that they won’t be caught. We are always on alert and our special team closely monitors booking activities. We urge everyone to avoid such offences."

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