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From Google to Fraud: How Scammers Got Credit Cards For Bollywood & Cricket Stars

PUNE: Bollywood actors and cricketers in India have reportedly fallen prey to a bizarre cyber fraud case. A group of fraudsters allegedly procured PAN details of several Indian celebrities from their GST Identification Numbers, which are available online, and got credit cards issued in their names from Pune-based fintech startup ‘One Card’.

Among the celebrities whose names and details were used by the fraudsters are Abhishek Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Madhuri Dixit, Emraan Hashmi and Mahendra Singh Dhoni, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) of Shahadra, Rohit Meena.

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The company eventually discovered the fraud, but not before the fraudsters had used some of the cards to purchase products worth Rs 21.32 lakh. Upon discovering the scam, the company immediately alerted the Delhi Police, who arrested five of the fraudsters.

The five accused, identified as Puneet, Mohd Asif, Sunil Kumar, Pankaj Mishar and Vishwa Bhaskar Sharma, are said to have worked closely to defraud the company in an unusual manner, according to Delhi Police sources.

The fraudsters allegedly used Google to obtain GST details of the celebrities, knowing that the first two digits of GSTIN are the state code and the next 10 digits are the PAN number. They then used publicly available information, such as the celebrities’ date of birth, to complete the PAN details. They fraudulently remade the PAN cards, putting their own pictures on them so that during video verification, their looks matched with the photo available on the PAN/Aadhaar card.

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The fraudsters then forged their Aadhaar details in a similar fashion before applying for credit cards. During video verification, they were asked questions related to their financial activities, which they answered easily, having obtained all such details from CIBIL.

The fraudsters were aware that the celebrities possibly have good CIBIL scores, which would improve their chances of getting credit cards. They were also aware that the online verification system cannot identify celebrities such as Abhishek Bachchan, so they used the picture of accused Pankaj Mishra with Abhishek Bachchan’s PAN and Aadhaar details to get a card issued.

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Investigations into the matter are ongoing, with police sources suggesting that the accused may have used similar tactics to obtain credit cards from other banks and financial institutions. The fintech startup, which issued the One Card, alleged that the accused approached the company through its app, uploading PAN and Aadhaar numbers to obtain credit cards issued in their names. The company alleges that the accused exhausted their credit limits within a week and did not repay any of the funds.

The fintech startup reportedly alerted the police after it discovered multiple onboarding attempts were being made using a single device. The accused are believed to have used a total of 83 PAN details across seven devices. The company also delivered some physical credit cards to the addresses listed on some of the documents.

Police sources have said that the accused researched ways to use loopholes in the online verification and issuance of credit cards for several months. Investigations are ongoing.

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