A NID forgery gang comprising some data entry operators of the Election Commission (EC) and loan scammers has swindled several banks out of over Tk5 crore, according to the Detective Branch (DB) of the Dhaka Metropolitan Police.
Of the amount, Tk3.64 crore has been taken out in six large-amount loans from six branches of five private banks in the capital.
Madhu Sudan Das, assistant commissioner at Lalbagh Zone of the DB, said the gang used fake NID (national identity) cards to secure bank loans for its members.
Besides, it helps loan defaulters or people who do not qualify for bank credit to avail loans, providing them with fake NIDs for Tk20,000-40,000 each. Using the fake NID, a loan applicant can get a fresh Credit Information Bureau (CIB) report that is essential for securing a bank loan.
The gang also takes the responsibility of completing all procedures for obtaining bank loans of different amounts for Tk80,000-1,50,000. They charge an additional 10% commission on the loan amount, once it is sanctioned, he added.
The DB claimed that it had arrested five members of the racket. The Organised Crime and Vehicle Theft Prevention Team of the Lalbagh Division of the DB detained them on Saturday from the capital's Mirpur area.
Police also seized twelve NID cards from their possession.
Razib Al Masud, deputy commissioner at Lalbagh Division of the DB, on Sunday told The Business Standard that they have taken the five arrestees on remand to glean further details of the loan scamming and NID forgery racket.
The arrestees are Md Sumon Parvez (40), Md Majid (42), Siddharth Shankar Sutradhar (32), Md Anwarul Islam (26), and Md Abdullah Al Mamun (41).
Among them, Anwarul Islam and Siddharth Shankar Sutradhar have been working with the EC's Gulshan and Sabujbagh zonal offices as data entry operators. They were temporarily suspended from their job on Sunday.
Brigadier General Saidul Islam, director general of the NID Registration Wing of the Election Commission, said a probe committee has been formed to look into the matter. If the EC officials are found guilty they will be terminated from their jobs.
The six large loan scams done by the gang are – Tk3 crore from South Bangla Agriculture and Commerce Bank's (SBAC) North South Road branch in the name of one of the arrestees Md Milton, Tk20 lakh from NRB Bank's Gulshan branch against a person named Md Abdul Mazid, Tk15 lakh from United Commercial Bank's Gulshan branch against Saleh Ahammed, Tk1O lakh from City Bank's PragatiSarani branch against Yeasir, Tk9.5 lakh from City Bank's Niketon branch, and Tk9.25 lakh from Brac Bank's Gulshan branch against one of the arrestees Abdullah Al Mamun.
When asked, SBAC Managing Director Tariqul Islam Chowdhury told The Business Standard that they are yet to know about the loan scamming gang officially.
"We have two branches on North South Road in Old Dhaka. If the DB can let us know in which branch the loan scam has taken place we can take further steps in this regard," he added.
How the gang operates
Madhu Shudan Das of the DB said the arrested members of the NID forgery gang, during primary interrogation, revealed that if someone defaults on a bank loan, their CIB report is marked as negative which makes them ineligible for a loan from the bank again.
The arrested Sumon and Majid used to help such individuals avail fresh loans by providing them with fake NID cards and completing the loan approval process. They would take Tk80,000-1,50,000 from each of such applicants for the purpose, he added.
"Sumon also told us that they used to charge 10% additional commission on the loan amount once it was sanctioned. If someone agreed to their proposal, they would first make a fake NID card with the help of the data entry operators of the EC," he added.
The DB official added that they have also found the involvement of several data entry operators from E-zone Company Ltd, who were working with the commission on an outsourcing basis.
"At first the data entry operators input the information of the applicant through an offline instead of an online server system. They also take the applicants' fingerprints and photographs in the same process. After one month, they insert the data through the Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) software.
"Later, if the loan is passed they would take 10% commission on the total amount as per the agreement."
As Siddharth Shankar Sutradhar and Anwarul Islam had been working as data entry operators in Khilgaon and Gulshan offices of the Election Commission, they could easily create fake national identity cards using the software of the Election Commission office.
Those who have availed fake NID cards from the gang include people from different professions, including doctors and engineers. So far, police have seized 20-25 fake NIDs.
During preliminary interrogation, police also came to know that Sumon Parvez used to work in a "verification firm" seven-eight years ago. The job of that organisation was to check whether anyone was eligible for loans or not. Later, he quit his job and joined the fraud gang.
Majid, another member of the group, contacted Sumon Parvez as he needed a loan. Then, the two got into this forgery together.
In response to a question on how the gang could make a new NID card of any individual who already has one, Madhu Sudan, citing the arrestees, said the data entry operators had adopted a strategy for this.
Those who had a NID card would hand over the birth certificate, citizenship certificate obtained from the local people's representative and the electricity bill to the data entry operator. They would send all the information offline, with fingerprints, for approval. It took a maximum of 15-20 minutes to get approved.
Then, the gang would hand over a new NID card to the people who were willing to take a loan.
It takes a couple of months to check whether the person in whose name the new NID card has been issued has any identity card in his name already. By this time, a scammer manages to take out a loan. But the bank cannot find them when the time of paying instalments comes. Even if they search for the NID card provided by the borrower, they cannot find it either.
Siddharth has been working with the EC since 2006. During interrogation, he said he got involved with the racket last year.
Police have filed a case against the arrested people at Mirpur Model Police Station under the National Identity Registration Act.