India's burgeoning population has been a hotbed of conspiracy and scams. A country of some billions hosts many millions who are struggling to make ends meet, in and endless search for lucrative jobs that would perhaps fulfil the prophecy of 'today's pain, tomorrow's gain'. Yet, for shrewd manipulators, this tug of desperate employment provides the perfect platform to lure innocent adults, promising them with attractive job packages, snatching some of their hard-earned money and ultimately clogging them in a cruel system of theft and bankruptcy.
As technology advanced, so did the cheats who were cautious to tread one step ahead of law enforcement agencies. The prime victims of this network of gross unemployment, false promises and further impoverishment are villagers living in the remote corners of our country. Those running the scam lure villagers with fake job proposals, promise to end their poverty with a small investment, snatch their money and cheat them ruthlessly. Their lack of education prohibits them from acting upon this injustice. This evil network runs across the length and breadth of our country with a meticulous organisation in mishandling technology to earn many a quick buck.
DCP (Crime) Ram Gopal Naik said, "These gangs don't target Delhi as there are chances of them coming under the radar of law enforcement agencies." In 2017, posing as recruiters for the army, the accused visited villages in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, where they lured poor farmers with the prospects of job security. More than 40 villagers were cheated of several lakhs which they gave to the accused in exchange for falsely promised jobs.
In 2018, the Crime Branch of Delhi Police led by DCP Naik busted the racket and found that the accused were operating from Bengaluru and Delhi. One of the accused had conducted a fake physical and medical test in the Delhi Cantonment area. "They conducted the test in the parks near the Cantonment to give an impression to the victims that the test is being conducted in army premises," a police official said.
DCP Naik added that these gangs plan and target villages where they can easily earn money. "They make few locals their associates who provide them details of unemployed youth. The accused then meet and lure the villagers on the pretext of a job," added the officer. In another case, a team of DCP (Crime) Joy Tirkey busted another racket where more than 10 villagers were duped in Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Investigators found that the victims belonged to extremely impoverished families, with the dream that a job would help them pay off their debts.
One such victim identified as Chattis Kumar stated that one lady approached him with the proposal of a government job and demanded money which was later given to the woman and her associates. "She promised a government job and took money from me. My family is dependent on farming, we are not rich so I borrowed money and gave them; but in the end, I was cheated," said Kumar. The gang used to charge Rs 7-10 lakh per candidate for offering a seemingly lucrative job.
DCP Joy Tirkey explains another modus operandi where they found that the accused posed as a senior officer donning a Navy uniform. The accused would boast of connections in government departments and take money from the victims, promising them good jobs in ONGC. A fake appointment letter was sent to the victims by registered post, directing them to reach the ONGC headquarters at Vasant Kunj, Delhi. Only after reaching the genuine office on the designated date and time did the victims realise that they had been duped.
The accused involved in the racket employed extensive technology and regularly visited villages to dupe the innocent. The Special Task Force of Uttar Pradesh Police has tightened the noose on criminals and busted several job rackets. DSP (UP STF) Brijesh Singh explained that when new government vacancies are announced, the accused target coaching centres where several students prepare for competitive exams. By duping all the job seekers at once, they can save time and earn good money.
"In some cases, we found that one or two persons got the job through the accused who later told their known persons about the racketeers' influence," said Singh. The other jobseekers also started meeting the accused and paid them several lakhs of rupees. After taking money, the gang fled the place. DSP Singh further added that the whole modus operandi runs like a chain with several crooks marking the way.
The accused also prepared fake pages of different government organisations. "The URL should be checked before opening any page so that the applicant is aware whether the page is genuine or fake," said an official from the cyber cell. The innocent persons, after opening the page, found government vacancies and then filled the form. "The page also asked for bank details and soon, after providing all information, the accused who handled the forged page transferred all the money into his account," added the official.
One such case happened in November 2017 in New Delhi, when the police received a complaint regarding a fake fundraising website in the name of a Central Government Ministry. The website was offering jobs for various posts and applicants were being requested to pay examination fees online on the website.
A Government of India logo was also uploaded without any permission from the Ministry to give visitors/applicants the impression that the organisation was genuine. To earn illicit money, the accused uploaded an advertisement for the recruitment of teachers and other posts for more than 6715 vacancies and directed applicants to fill the form online and pay the fee only in the account of the organisation. Around 4000 applicants submitted applications and paid a total amount of Rs 20 lakh approximately.
Investigators also found that the job racket gangs are running active agents in Kolkata, West Bengal and North India. The agents lure the innocent candidates who are desperate in search of government jobs. They promise the victims that they can arrange government jobs in lieu of money through some available "Ministry Quota". The accused took a mock interview of candidates near government offices and then extorted money from the innocent job seekers with empty promises that were never to be fulfilled.
Genuine jobs, fake papers
In some cases, the arrested accused involved in the racket claimed that with a fake mark-sheet many persons secured a job. The network of fake mark-sheets has also spread its net across the country. The accused involved in the activities are extremely tech savvy as they prepare fake websites of different boards and once any applicant searches the name of the university, their fake website will appear first. The probable victim then contacts them and soon gets duped.
In August 2017, when Nupur Prasad was DCP Shahdara, Delhi Police busted a gang with the arrest of six men and, from their interrogation, the police came to know that more than 2000 people were cheated by issuing fake mark-sheets and certificates. The arrested accused, who were involved in a pan-India con network of fake education boards and fake universities disclosed that they mostly targetted the schools in villages of states such as Jharkhand, Bihar, Uttar Pradesh.
The accused also claimed that several persons were employed in various government departments such as the UP Police, Railways, Post Office, Army and paramilitary – the police are probing these claims. As per the information on the website of the fake board, around 250-300 schools are affiliated to it.
Police informed that those involved in this pan-India network of fake education boards and universities mostly target schools in far-flung villages of the country. For private schools in India's remote villages, receiving affiliation from the 'Board of Higher Secondary Education, Delhi' was a matter of pride. However, many were unaware that the Board was counterfeit and was selling forged certificates.
In another case, three persons including a Delhi University graduate who was running more than 20 fake websites related to educational boards and selling forged mark-sheets were arrested by West Delhi Police. In order to convince their clients, they had prepared fake websites of the concerned universities and school boards and these websites are so convincing that it is a challenge to tell the difference between the genuine and the fake websites.
In the year 2018, more than 1700 cases of different types of cheating were reported in the National Capital. The law enforcement agency in their data of 2018 claimed that they have nabbed over 400 people involved in cheating cases. "Out of 1723 cheating cases, the city police solved 238 of them," added the data accessed by Millennium Post. In 2017, the National Capital witnessed more than 4000 cases in which 752 were solved and around 1,123 persons were nabbed for their involvement in the crime. The data also includes property related cheating.