Mira Bhayandar: Cops bust online flight ticket booking racket
File photo

The cybercrime unit of the Mira Bhayandar-Vasai Virar (MBVV) police commissionerate busted a pan-India online racket involving booking of air tickets and suites in five-star hotels by using stolen data of credit cards from the darknet.

Six people including the kingpin identified as Sameer Kasim Shaikh have been arrested and booked under sections 419, 420, 465, 467, 468, 471, 120(b) and relevant sections of the Information and Technology Act-2005.

Acting on a tip-off, the cybercrime team led by API Pravin Swami under the instructions of MBVV chief Sadanand Date arrested Shaikh from a flat in Mira Road. The team seized 2 laptops, 14 cellphones, 55 sim cards, 25 fake Aadhar cards, 11 cheque-books and 13 debit/credit cards of various banks.

Involved and arrested for his involvement in other similar crimes, Shaikh was also linked to the gang that had cheated Kingfisher Airlines in 2006 by booking thousands of tickets using stolen data of credit cards issued by a leading private sector bank.

Further investigations led to the arrest of his accomplice identified as Wasim Kasim Shaikh, Abdul Hamid Basha Shaikh and Ismail Ashraf Kazi--all residents of Kausa, Mumbra. The gang used stolen data including card number, expiry date and the unique customer verification value (CVV), printed on cards, to book air tickets and expensive hotel rooms which were later sold to others at discounted rates.

After rounds of sustained interrogations, the quartet revealed that they were assisted by two others Stefan Francis D’Souza and Amey Arun Lokare who provided them with the stolen data of the credit and debit cards. While Stefan, a call center employee misused his workplace to steal data of foreign nationals, Amey purchased the stolen data from the darknet in exchange of bitcoin currency, police said.

Stefan and Amey were arrested from Mira Road and Jaipur (Rajasthan) respectively. Apart from details of 4,728 credit cards in books, the police found details of more than 1,000 air tickets and hotel bookings which were saved in mobile phones and hard disks belonging to the accused gang members. Senior Police Inspector Jitendra Vankoti is conducting further investigations in the case.

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