The fraud first came to light when Mrudula Koduri, Assistant Manager, SBI Cards, and Payments Services reached out to the Cyber Crime police in June following complaints registered with their customer care service. The complainants said they received phone calls from unknown persons posing themselves as employees of SBI Credit Card Decision and took their card details. Soon, the victims of the fraud started noticing that transactions in tune to Rs 8,500 were being deducted from each credit card holder.
A preliminary investigation done by the bank found that the credit cards were being used on an online portal using the cardholders’ OTPs. The transactions were being carried out in the name of the firm, Jay Shree Distributors, but the victims informed the bank that they had done no transactions with the Hyderabad-based firm.
Upon investigation, the Cyberabad Cyber Crime Police found three bank accounts linked to Jay Shree Distributors, belonging to Sandeep Bajaj. The bank accounts were linked to the websites were the SBI credit cards were used.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, the police said that Sandeep owned a cloth shop named Jay Shree Distributors at Ramgopalpet, Secunderabad and was in debt. He was approached by a Vijay Kumar Sharma from New Delhi, now cited by the police as the mastermind behind the fraud.
Sharma is a fraudster known to the Delhi police and was earlier arrested in 2017 for cheating bank customers. He develops websites, register domains and payment gateways to collect the online payment through their websites.
To trick the SBI credit card customers into giving out sensitive banking details, such as card numbers and OTPs, Sharma teamed up with Sapphire Business Solutions, a Direct Sales Agency (DSA) based out of New Delhi. The DSA was co-owned by two brothers, Ashutosh Shrivastav, Abhijit Shrivastav and Abhijit’s wife Sita Kumar now a co-accused, they together hired 22 telecallers to steal SBI credit card details. Two team leaders who oversaw the calls have also been arrested.
Sapphire Business Solutions paid the 22 telecallers Rs 800 as incentive once they trap an SBI credit card customer in the name of gifts. They targeted either English or Hindi speaking credit card holders from major metros (except Delhi).
The amounts were credited into the accounts created by Sandeep, who then would remit the amounts into the account of Vijay Kumar Sharma who retained a 15 percent share and credited the rest to the owners of Sapphire Business Solutions.