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Vikash Sharma

The Odisha Crime Branch on Wednesday claimed to have obtained vital information about the criminals involved in hacking the Whatsapp account of Manoj Kumar Patnaik, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Odisha Computer Application Centre (OCAC) .

Crime Branch ADG, Sanjeeb Panda said that the king pin of the cyber criminal gang is operating from Nigeria while other his hirelings are active in different parts of the country. The disclosure came up during interrogation of Okwudiri Paschal, who was arrested by a team of Delhi Police from Bengaluru recently. A two-member team of the Odisha Crime Branch has already interrogated Paschal in Bengaluru.

Paschal was arrested by the Delhi Police while he was withdrawing money from an ATM in Banaswadi area in Bengaluru on November 16. On November 1, the Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Op (IFSO) unit of the Delhi Police had arrested a Nigerian national identified as Chimelum Emmanuel Aniwetalu alias Maurice for allegedly running the same cyber fraud syndicate.

According to Crime Branch, Paschal is the associate of Maurice and his role was limited to withdrawing cash from ATMs. He was getting a commission of 10 per cent of the amount swindled from the bank accounts of the victims.

“It is a big network and Paschal is one of its key associates. His main job was to withdraw money from ATMs while others were given specific jobs including technical, bank and WhatsApp related matters. We have got credible information and efforts are on to nab them,” said Panda.

According to Panda, Paschal had arrived in India in 2012 and his visa has already expired. Similar is the case with Maurice whose visa has also expired.

“Our probe reveals that Paschal was reporting to a person in the gang. We have also found that money from victims’ account was transferred to several bank accounts in India as well as abroad. It is premature to say how many members are there in the gang,” Panda added.

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