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26 arrested as RPF busts India’s biggest rail ticketing racket

With a network of 20,000 agents who would corner 50% of the tickets sold daily, they are one of the main reasons it had become near impossible to procure confirmed railway tickets in the recent past

January 29, 2020 / 07:22 PM IST

After two months of hot pursuit, the Railway Protection Force (RPF) was finally able to bust a major ticketing racket run by software engineers based in Dubai.

The Indian Railways has learnt that the team of techies who helmed the ticketing gang operated a sophisticated corporate-like set up in India, where members were categorised into agents, sellers, leaders, admins, etc.

The Railway Police have identified Dubai-based Hamid Ashraf as the mastermind of the racket. He has been under the police scanner for long and had been arrested in Uttar Pradesh in 2016 for involvement in a ticketing scam. According to a Mumbai Mirror report, probing agencies also believe he was involved in a 2019 bomb blast case in the same state.

Though the RPF haven’t been able to nab Ashraf yet, 26 others were arrested over the month of January. Different operatives were tracked down from different parts of the country, with Ghulam Mustafa -- the India head of the gang – being held in Bengaluru on January 19. Their head for the western region – a person going by the name Deepal Saha aka Danny – was arrested from Mumbai’s Borivali a week ago, while he was travelling by the Paschim Express to go in hiding in Gujarat.

The report submitted by the RPF on the gang revealed that the more than 20,000 agents of this gang would corner almost 50 percent of the tickets sold daily. This they would achieve within the first one minute of the bookings opening for the day. The agents had access to software that allowed them to dodge security clearances and also generate one-time passwords (OTP).

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Because of this, they would always be at an advantage over regular ticket buyers who would spend at least 30 seconds more in waiting for the OTP, submitting details, etc. Also, interestingly, the scamsters would update to a newer version of the software every day, making it impossible for the Indian Railways’ cyber vigilance cell to track them.

It is because of gangs such as these that getting a confirmed ticket had become near impossible in India in recent times. Ticketing rackets are guilty of buying off tickets in bulk before most buyers can even log in, creating an artificial shortage, so that their agents can sell them in black later.
Moneycontrol News
first published: Jan 29, 2020 07:22 pm

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