Illegal e-ticket racket busted by South Western Railway protection force

Hackers bypassed IRCTC Tatkal system; 100 arrested so far

The Railway Protection Force (RPF) of South Western Railway (SWR) has busted an illegal e-ticket racket involving cross-border gang of criminals that hacked into the IRCTC Tatkal e-ticketing system and booked tickets directly which were subsequently sold for four to five times more than the actual fare.

The Railway Minister has given assent to take up the case with CBI.

According to a press release by SWR, it was in September last year that intelligence agencies were alerted to use of illegal software for bypassing the IRCTC and bank security systems used for booking tatkal tickets across India.

The sleuths of SWR RPF nabbed a criminal, who in turn led them to a mastermind of the illegal software. The criminal, however, fled Bengaluru in October 2019, but the sleuths managed to trace him at Kenderpara in Odisha. The Bengaluru RPF team arrested and brought him to Bengaluru for further investigation.

Thorough interrogation revealed that the accused was using Pakistan-based softwares with high level hacking codes to hack into government organisations and agencies. The criminal also had details of around 3,000 bank details, bit coins and crypto currency links. Further interrogation threw light on a black market comprising a network of 25,000 touts and hackers spread across India and abroad.

The racket would run on demand brought by touts to sellers, who in turn would use the hacking codes to get access to the system to book tatkal tickets. The sellers got help from panel developers who would give access to the software on monthly charges. The investigation further revealed that the panel developers reported to financial and technical admins who maintained servers hosted in foreign countries. The money thus generated is suspected used for terror funding and other illegal activities, as per initial investigation.

After RPF, SWR unearthed how the network functioned to bypass the ticketing system, the Director General of RPF personally coordinated through the DIG Railway Board, which led to raids across India leading to arrest of 100 panel developers and software sellers. The software codes have been seized and subsequently destroyed, the release said.

The Principal Chief Security Commissioner of SWR and Divisional Security Commissioner of Bengaluru and team have been issued a commendation certificate by the Director General of RPF.

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