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4 of Bihar gang running O2 cylinders scam held, transactions identified

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By NS Desk 19-May-2021

New Delhi, May 19 (IANS) An oxygen cylinder racket being carried out by Bihar-based "Chhote Choudhary" gang has been busted with arrest of four of its members from the state's Nalanda, the Delhi Police's Crime Branch said on Wednesday.

Additional Commissioner, Crime Branch, Shibesh Singh, said that transactions amounting to over Rs 1 crore has been traced in seized bank accounts in both private and government banks -- deposits and withdrawal of Rs 1.28 crore in one, of Rs 2.17 lakh in another, and of Rs 96,500 in a third.

Singh said that Delhi Police teams are poised to conduct raids in other states too.

Deputy Commissioner of Police, Crime Branch, Monika Bhardwaj said its Inter-State Cell busted the Nalanda-based interstate gang involved in cheating innocent people on the pretext of supplying oxygen cylinders, and concentrators during the pandemic.

The arrested accused, identified as Deepak, Pankaj, Sarvan, and Mithlesh of the notorious Chhote Choudhary gang, were involved in cheating nearly 100 people.

Bhardwaj said that the Crime Branch acted after receiving a complaint from Sharadh Chandran, who said that he was in dire need of oxygen for his relative admitted in DDU Hospital here, found a source online but was duped.

"In order to procure two oxygen cylinders for his relative, Chandran contacted Sachin, whose number he got from social media posts. Sachin offered him two cylinders for Rs 23,950. Finding no other option, the complainant paid the money through Paytm and bank transfer," the complaint read. However, he did not receive anything.

The DCP said that the Crime Branch filed a case and launched an investigation. The money trail was examined and it was found that the money was transferred to a bank account of UCO Bank's Malad Branch in Mumbai in the name of Ruksana Khatoon.

"After through technical detail analysis of the registered mobile number and other details, the culprits were zeroed in the area of Nalanda in Bihar. And later, we tracked Mithilesh, 56, a resident of Bihar Sharif in Nalanda."

The Crime Branch team then carried out a raid and Mithlesh was apprehended, and based on information from him, the others were arrested.

The DCP said that large number of SIM cards, ATM cards, mobile phones, laptops, passbooks, cheque books, Aadhar cards, voter I-cards and other documents were recovered from their possession.

Explaining the gang's modus operandi, Bhardwaj said: "On interrogation of accused, it was found that they are members of Chhote Choudhary gang operating from Nalanda. Choudhary, also a resident of Nalanda, is operating the gang since 2-3 years and has accumulated huge property from cheating."

Choudhary has engaged 200-300 boys of the area for this purpose of cheating on different pretexts like phone friendship, etc, the DCP said, adding that during the Covid pandemic, he found an opportunity in the rising demand for oxygen cylinders, concentrators. etc.

Choudhary used his accomplice Deepak to arrange bank accounts for receiving the cheated money, and Sarwan used to provide him accounts opened on the basis of forged credentials at the rate of Rs 25,000 each. Mithlesh then used to withdraw money from ATM booths using the cards supplied to him by Deepak at the rate of two per cent for each transaction.

Ater the cash was withdrawn from the ATMs, it was handed over to Deepak through Pankaj, who was deployed for collection of money, and paid Rs 4,500 per week.

Bhardwaj also said that on analysis of Paytm number used for receiving money in the case, it was found that five other persons have also deposited money in it.

"On enquiry, it was revealed that on April 30, one complainant deposited Rs 7,500 for oxygen cylinder in the Paytm account but accused did not supply it and her husband expired for want of oxygen on May 1 while another victim was duped of Rs 3,000 for regulator of oxygen cylinder for his brother's use in home isolation (and now admitted in hospital)."

Bhardwaj said that the recovered SIM cards, bank account details and documents are being scrutinised to connect them with other cases and further investigations is going on to trace and arrest Choudhary and his other associates involved in the racket.

--IANS

aks/vd

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