Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Crime Branch’s Special Task Force (STF) on Thursday busted a major inter-state mule bank account racket and arrested three people.
The arrested individuals were identified as Sk Hapizul, Sk Jahangir, and Sk Jamiruddin, and were from Balasore district in Odisha and West Medinipur district in West Bengal.
The STF conducted a series of raids in Bhubaneswar after receiving intelligence about the racket. During the raids, the STF seized various incriminating materials, including mobile phones, pre-activated SIM cards, bank passbooks, and Aadhaar cards.
The racket was primarily operated in the tri-junction area of Odisha, Jharkhand, and West Bengal, with a particular focus on districts like Balasore, Mayurbhanj, East Midnapore, West Midnapore, East Singhbhum, West Singhbhum, and Saraikela.
The operation was orchestrated by Sk Jamiruddin, who employed around 10 to 15 people to open bank accounts in exchange for a monthly fee of Rs 15,000. These recruits would target residents of remote areas, especially those from impoverished backgrounds or tribal communities, persuading them to open bank accounts. Villagers were typically offered Rs 2,000 for providing their documents and facilitating the account openings.
Once established, these bank accounts, along with linked mobile numbers, were sold to cybercriminals and other illicit actors in Kolkata and across India, leveraging social media platforms such as WhatsApp groups, Facebook pages, and Telegram channels. The mule bank accounts were sold at rates ranging from Rs 15,000 to Rs 20,000 per account, and an estimated 5,000 such accounts have already been sold on various platforms.
The criminals frequently rotated accounts, often abandoning them once transactions reached Rs 1 lakh or even earlier.