The Railway Protection Force (RPF) has busted countrywide illegal e-ticket booking rackets and arrested 79 persons, a top official said here on Wednesday.
It has also identified 16,735 user IDs -- through which tickets were booked illegally -- for blacklisting besides blocking 27,948 tickets worth Rs 7.96 crore for upcoming journeys, said Arun Kumar, director-general of the RPF. ANMS and MAC, the illegal softwares which the racketeers used for booking e-tickets fraudulently by getting around One Time Password (OTP) and CAPTCHA systems, were completely "neutralized" by RPF sleuths, he said. "Tickets valued around Rs 30 crore, which were already used by passengers, were also seized," he said.
The racket existed since 2012 but became more active in the last two or three years, Kumar said.
As many as 79 persons have been arrested in connection with the rackets which were suspected to have links to terror financing, he added.
The arrests were made in various parts of the country and the accused included owners of the illegal software.
No agents have been arrested yet, he said.
RPF sleuths deactivated ANMS software on January 23 and MAC on February 8, he said. Similar softwares had been deactivated in the past, he said.
The illegal ANMS software had captured nearly 80 per cent of the ticket booking market, Kumar said.
The "master" or the owner having a password and ID for the software would sell "layers" of the software to agents for a specific time slot for booking tickets, the RPF DG said. Some other illegal softwares are available in the market but they do not work, Kumar claimed. "We are aware that some softwares are still there in the market. We are working on them and trying to neutralize them as well," said Kumar.
The RPF was working closely with the Centre for Railway Information System (CRIC), IRCTC and the commercial departments of the railways, and CRIS keeps updating security features and disrupting the function of such softwares, he said.
The RPF top boss also said that investigation revealed that these softwares also bypassed OTP systems used for online transactions, and it was brought to the notice of the Reserve Bank of India, asking it to make online payment for railway ticket booking more secure.
For online payments upto Rs 2,000, OTP is not required, he said. "We have taken up this with RBI and told them that as far as railway tickets are concerned, single payments (without OTP) should not be bypassed (allowed)," Kumar said.