Odisha STF busts interstate extortion racket; 2 fake ED officers arrested

Bhubaneswar: Odisha STF busted an interstate extortion racket with the arrest of two cons, who impersonated themselves as senior officers of the Enforcement Directorate and demanded huge amounts from more than 300 government officials.

The fake ED officers were identified as Tarinisen Mohapatra (30) and Brahmashankar Mohapatra (27), two brothers from Dhenkanal district. They were operating an extortion racket in Odisha and neighbouring Jharkhand.

The accused brothers were arrested yesterday under sections 419/420/384/388/506/120(B) of IPC following a complaint by Chhatrapur Sub-Collector-cum-SDM Debadutta Mohanta. The STF seized articles including one lenevo make laptop, one Lenevo Desktop (Monitor and CPU), five Mobile handset ( iphone, OnePlus, Realme ), Bank Passobooks and Cheque Books, Fake Identity cards issued by UPKAR CPLI Project and 17 fake ATM-Cum-Debit Cards from their possession.

As per the complaint, one of the accused persons impersonating as Additional Director, ED, demanded money from Chhatrapur Sub-Collector.

During investigation so far, the STF found that the accused duo was maintaining luxurious life for which they borrowed huge money in their locality Dhenkanal town area. When the borrowers pressurised them to return money, both the brothers left Dhenkanal and moved to Ranchi in Jharkhand temporarily where they stayed in a rented house at Rs 10,000 per month.

The probe revealed that the accused brothers worked in an NGO ‘UPKAR’ which operates in Ranchi. As the NGO was not functioning well for last one year, to maintain their luxurious life, both brothers hatched out a plan to dupe government officials by impersonating themselves as Additional Director of ED, Bhubaneswar.

They watched and studied all ED related news articles so that they can impersonate and imitate well to scare/extort Govt officials. They are very good in computer operations and creating fake documents in computer. They created lots of fake documents, letter heads, clearance letter, logo etc. They procured 02 SIMS (01 from Odisha and 01 From Ranchi, Jharkhand) and made voice/ WhatsApp calls to Govt. officials of different State Government Departments by collecting the Govt. Official’s Mobile Number from the Web Directory and other sources. They also saved their number in “True Caller” and WhatsApp profile name as: “Sanjay Mishra ED”. They identified themselves as Sanjaya Mishra, Addl. Director, Enforcement Directorate. They would generally tell Govt. officials that one complaint case has been instituted against him which was received from Vigilance Department relating to a corruption case and ED is about to begin the enquiry & raids against him, the STF stated in a release.

“If any Govt. Officials did not respond their voice /WhatsApp calls , they sent SMS / WhatsApp message as “ This side Sanjaya Mishra, Director of Enforcement Department …. My investigation officer trying to connect you but you did not attend the call. Make an instant call. It’s very urgent else I can’t control the vigilance,” the STF stated.

The STF revealed that the accused duo asked money to settle/close the so called case/enquiry. They called around 340 Govt officials. However, in most of the cases, they could not succeed to extort money but in some cases they succeeded. They received the money from Govt. Officials from their PhonePe and GooglePay wallets. So Far, STF has traced the transaction/payment of more than Rs 16 Lakh.

The investigation is on to find out whether they have done similar impersonation/extortion targeting Jharkhand Govt officials too as they were staying in Ranchi, Jharkhand too. After receiving the demanded money, accused persons sent fabricated clearance letter (of Enforcement Directorate and central vigilance commission) to the concerned Govt officials, the STF said.

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