Unique cyber crime on railways

Tickets booked, trains ‘cancelled’ and money is defrauded

BJ Mirror Correspondent

In a unique and rare case of cyber crime, the Indian railways were defrauded of crores of rupees. The modus operandi was quite simple and unsuspecting. The gangsters would procure e-tickets in bulk through the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC) online portal for long-distance journey and for a while the trains would be shown on the railway network as cancelled. Under the IRCTC system, cancellation of trains automatically leads to refund of money into the account of the agency through which e-tickets are booked.

As soon as money was credited into the ticket booking agency’s account, the vested interests would immediately ‘restore’ trains on the railway system, an ECR official revealed. Trains and passengers would travel alright but the Railways would not get the money. Now a high-level probe would unravel the racket going on in connivance with a few railway employees of the Samastipur division.

Indian Railway
Meanwhile, another racket going on unabated relates to the use of free passes given to railway employees. Free family passes are given for two travels a year. But, the concerned employees use them many a time in 12 months. The defrauding method is quite simple and unsuspecting. Tickets and reservations are booked on the strength of free pass in a particular train. And when reservation charts are out the tickets are shown as cancelled. Thus, the journey is undertaken but no travel entry is made in the free pass documents in connivance with train conductors. In this way employees use free passes as many times as they wish in a particular year.

According to sources, the railways have detected 310 fake cancellations of trains during the 2009-2010 in Samastipur division alone. These irregularities were committed mostly at Sugauli, Bettiah, Janakpur Road, Simri Bakhtiarpur and other small stations for fake refund of railway reserved tickets. While the premier Saptkranti Express was shown cancelled for about 70 times, Vaishali Express and other long-distance trains too were targeted for the purpose by the vested interests frequently during the past one year to get huge refunds against the tickets, sources said.

The swindling business was being carried out in connivance with the railway employees of Samastipur division of East Central Railway (ECR). Five railway employees involved in the fake cancellation of trains and refund of money have been suspended so far in the Samastipur division alone. The matter has been handed over to a vigilance team of the ECR for a thorough probe. Considering the dimension and sophistication of the racket, CBI may take up the probe, railway sources said and added involvement of non-railway employees in this crime is not ruled out. According to Samastipur ECR sources, the organised racket was being tracked by a team of commercial officials.

The matter came to light when Brajesh Kumar, a booking clerk of Janakpur Road under Samastipur division, showed fake cancellation of the Lichhvi Express (4005) on the railway system for about half an hour on a particular date to get refund of e-tickets. The novice railway employee, however, failed to ‘restore’ running of the train on the system. Thus, the cat was out of the bag and the racket leaked out, the sources said.

The suspended employees are Jamal Akhthar (commercial clerk), Sugauli, Pankaj Choudhary (enquiry-cum-reservation clerk), Sugauli, R K Jha (enquiry-cum-reservation clerk), Bettiah, A N Mishra (reservation supervisor), Bettiah and Brajesh Kumar (booking clerk), Janakpur Road. The railways are carrying out search operation at other reservation terminals under the division to check this rare cyber crime, reports said. Recently, a cyber crime relating to salary defalcation to the tune of Rs 90 lakh was detected under the Danapur division of ECR. The case is being probed by the CBI, sources said.


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