Cyber police in India have broken up a cyber-criminal operation selling fake helicopter tickets to pilgrims via fraudulent websites.
The scam targeted pilgrims traveling to and from the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine, which is in the Trikuta hills, 63km from Jammu City.
On Friday, law enforcement officers from Rajasthan Police and Jammu Police’s Cyber Cell arrested four alleged members of the gang they believe is responsible for the deception. One of the suspects is believed to be the gang’s leader.
The defendants, who are from Kota, Rajasthan, are accused of posing as legitimate operators of a helicopter service offering flights between Jammu City and the Mata Vaishno Devi shrine.
An investigation was launched after police received complaints from the Shri Mata Vaishno Devi shrine board and from helicopter flight company Global Vectra that online fraudsters were duping pilgrims.
Investigators found approximately 40 fake websites hosted by the platform GoDaddy, promising helicopter rides to the shrine. Analysis of the site’s IP addresses and domain registration details enabled the police to trace the suspected fraudsters to Kota.
Three members of Jammu Police’s Cyber Cell took the evidence they had collected to Rajasthan, where they coordinated with local police to arrest the suspects.
Police sources quoted by The Statesman said: “Jammu Cyber Police with the assistance of Rajasthan police arrested four persons for duping people in the name of providing helicopter tickets to pilgrims for Mata Vaishno Devi shrine through fake websites.”
The defendants have been identified so far only as Sunil Chawla, Deepak, Gajanand and Monu Pankaj. The four individuals were taken to Jammu for questioning.
Superintendent of Jammu Police, Naresh Singh, said that the investigation into the fraudulent scam was led by Inspector Vikram Sharma of the Cyber Police station in Gandhi Nagar.
Sharma said the suspects’ arrest was “a big sigh of relief to pilgrims of Shri Mata Vaishno Devi, who came from all corners of India to Katra and got looted by purchasing fake helicopter tickets.”