Deccan Chronicle

Officials want state to probe how fraudsters got their phone Nos.


Several government officials who have reportedly received calls demanding money from fraudsters claiming to be from the ACB, have appealed to the state government to order a thorough probe to find out how the fraudsters managed to get the private phone numbers of the officers and details of their families.

Kurnool police have found a gang of eight persons, including the kingpin Jaya Krishna, hailing from different parts of Anantapur, who were threatenin­g government officials that they would expose them for their corrupt deals if they failed to pay up. The police arrested six of them on September 1 and sent them to judicial remand at Anantapur district jail in Reddipalli. Jaya Krishna from Pedda Kottala village of Uravakonda mandal in Anantapur district, and another accused, who was a bank account holder, are absconding.

Based on confession­s, police said that all the gang members were having criminal records and some had served jail terms. The main accused, while in jail, teamed up with fellow inmates and, soon after release on bail, began blackmaili­ng government officials.

The modus operandi was to identify government department­s notorious for high corruption and search for the mobilephon­e numbers of officials on the internet. Armed with a list of numbers, they used to call up the officials claiming to be from the ACB and tell them about their corrupt deals and demand money to avoid further inquiry on them.

They managed to get three SIM cards with fake credential­s. They also got two persons having bank accounts in Canara Bank and Kotak Mahindra Bank in Karnataka and offered them 10 per cent commission to return money credited into their accounts. Contrary to their calculatio­ns, these bank accounts helped the police to zero in on the culprits.

The ACB had recently disclosed the names of government officials and how much money they had paid to the gang, based on confession­s from the culprits and also from the officials.

However, there are several government officials who received such threatenin­g calls from the gang members and they managed to avoid paying the money.

A senior government official said, “I have received a few calls claiming to be from the ACB. Initially, I failed to attend the call as I was otherwise engaged. I got a text message claiming to be an ACB official message. When I returned the call, there was no response.”

As the ACB disclosed the names of government officials who paid bribes to the gang, many officials shared similar experience­s. Sources said that they confessed that the gang members not only accessed their private mobile numbers but even had procured informatio­n about their family members.

Sources said that an official shared his bitter experience with his colleague by saying that the gang member even mentioned that his wife was sick.

The gang also targeted officials on the verge of retirement, threatenin­g to expose them if they were not paid the money as was the case with the municipal commission­er from Palamaneru in Chittoor district.

Government officials are a worried lot as they are getting calls from the police as their numbers were found in the call data of the mobilephon­es of the accused, to enquire whether they paid money to the gang. They have made a fervent appeal to the state government to order an inquiry to find out how their personal details are being leaked out and even suspected moles in their department­s.

A senior official from ACB said, “We wonder as to why not a single official called us when somebody claiming to be from ACB began demanding money. We also maintain a toll free number where complaints can be lodged.”

● THE ACB had recently disclosed the names of government officials and how much money they had paid to the gang, based on confession­s from the culprits and also from the officials.

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