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Sunday, April 14, 2024

Is bank account ‘buying’ a new terrorist tactic

Banned terrorist organisations buy or rent bank accounts in Kerala by paying money to the actual account holders. Kerala Police authorities revealed this shocking new trend. Terrorists approach people on the pretext of operating their bank accounts for online trading, gaming and cryptocurrency transactions.

Security agencies are monitoring the accounts and financial transactions related to terrorists. This is why operations are conducted by buying accounts belonging to other religious groups.

Many victims are educated youth, women, students and farmers. It is suspected that most ‘victims’ are greedy Hindus. Terrorists use such bank accounts since they are not scrutinised.

Terrorists use two methods: creating new accounts or taking over existing accounts. The victim is asked to open a new account, but the phone number provided will be under the control of terrorists. In the case of existing accounts, the linked phone numbers will be changed by applying to the bank.

When account holders use such trade-offs, the original account holders are entirely cut off from the transactions made through their accounts. They give the phone numbers of those who purchased the account for contact, and the illegal operators take complete control of those accounts. This method provides terrorists access to one-time passwords for online transactions.

All transactions are done online. Police found that no one had ever gone to the bank to open or operate such accounts. This is how terrorists protect and hide their identities.

Aluva-based Ernakulam Rural Police discovered the terrorists’ new strategy. Later, in a message sent to other police districts, similar incidents were reported from many districts. Hundreds of complaints of online cheating using ‘sold accounts’ are being reported across the state.

Account holders are promised a percentage of the money coming into the account. However, the account holder will never know the actual amount in the account. To keep them quiet, occasionally, some money is paid to the original account holder.

A few weeks ago, the Ernakulam Rural Cyber Police detected traces of significant anti-national activity when checking the accounts of those involved in an online fraud case. Those who operated these bank accounts have made lakhs of rupees in transactions.

The trend came to light when police questioned an offender recently apprehended in connection with an online fraud in which a 63-year-old from Aluva was defrauded of ₹1.15 crore. Ashwin, a 25-year-old accused from Kozhikode, was discovered to have sold the online fraud racket access to his bank account for a meagre ₹15,000.

The police could track transactions totalling Rs 10 crores through the account, but Ashwin was clueless and unable to provide a reasonable explanation. Even worse, the police discovered that he had made a second account with his mother-in-law’s login information and sold that one off similarly.

In the Ernakulam district, 60 such bank accounts were discovered to have been compromised in this way. Half of them were linked to the Ernakulam Rural police boundaries. That includes the terror-infested regions of Aluva and Perumbavoor.

When money is traced back to the original account holders, they are left in the dark and will be subject to the wrath of law authorities. Such accounts can be used for a variety of illicit purposes. Some people who sold/pawned their accounts are already in jail. Interestingly, nobody who bought the account has been found.

Those arrested say that they gave their bank account details to their ‘friend’ because they needed money. Many have never even met this friend. Friends are people they meet on social media platforms like Instagram or Telegram. In many instances, these ‘friends’ turn out to be criminals who, if apprehended, deny any association.

The police said that people have sold accounts for just ten thousand rupees. The police have strictly instructed citizens not to give their bank accounts to anyone, no matter what profit is offered. Kerala Police is sensitising the public against fraudulent terror-related gangs buying bank accounts by promising vast sums of money.

Police said volunteers have been appointed in all police districts for this purpose. District Police Chief Dr. Vaibhav Saxena IPS told Janmabhumi that 380 cyber volunteers have been selected in Ernakulam Rural district alone. “The magnitude of the problem is not yet clear, and I hope it hasn’t yet assumed mammoth proportions,” he added.

The aim is to create awareness among the public and prevent more people from being scammed. If you receive calls from unknown numbers asking for bank account information, you should immediately register on the cybercrime portal 1930. Cyber volunteers will conduct classes for the public and poster campaigns through social media.

Techies, college students and interested members of the public can also volunteer. They will be given police training. Ernakulam Rural Police has released a poster asking citizens not to be cheated by selling their accounts.

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