Fake NID for Tk 1.5 lakh
A syndicate of brokers and some dishonest staffers of the Election Commission had been forging national ID cards for years due to a lack of strict monitoring and loopholes in the system, found a police investigation.
The fake NID cards, each of which sold at Tk 1.2 lakh to Tk 1.5 lakh, were used in fraudulence related to bank loans and land, said people with the knowledge of this illegal business.
While issuing of a dual NID is a punishable offence, the syndicate keeps the name and photo same and changes the rest of the information.
This card is sold to a person who already has an authentic NID against that name and photo, and is used mostly in bank loan scams. In another kind of forgery, the photo is changed and such a card is used mostly for selling someone else's land.
The NID wing of EC has identified around 1,057 people who have received the cards for a second time for ill motives, said a high official of the wing, adding they already blocked the cards with the EC's legal wing filing around 556 cases against these card holders.
"We have sacked some 42 employees of the NID wing for their involvement with the nexus," the official told this newspaper on December 23 last year, on condition of anonymity.
There are around 10 crore registered NID card holders in the country and around another 2.7 lakh fresh applications submitted since 2019 are under process, according to the NID wing.
The Detective Branch of police on September 5 last year arrested five people, including two EC employees, from the capital's Mirpur for their alleged involvement in providing forged NIDs.
The DB also recovered around 12 forged NID cards from their possession. In interrogation, the arrestees disclosed names of four others, including two more EC employees who worked in Lalmonirhat.
A high official of DB, requesting anonymity, said these syndicate members would make a deal of up to Tk 1.5 lakh for supplying a fake NID card.
For completing the process in the NID wing, an EC staffer would get Tk 30,000 to Tk 40,000 for each card, the official told the Daily Star on December 22.
Sometimes, the offer comes from brokers involved in processing documents for bank loans. They usually target loan defaulters seeking fresh loans.
If the Credit Information Bureau (CIB) report of the client is found to be unsatisfactory and so he is declared ineligible to get a loan, the brokers take him to another group of brokers who work at the EC offices.
The client and the bank-related brokers then make a deal with the EC office brokers and the process begins to make a second NID card with the help of some data entry officials.
The brokers get a commission on the loan once it is released.
DB officials involved in the investigation said they have already found evidence of Tk 14 crore in loans being collected from different private banks using forged NID cards in the last one year by different people with the help of the syndicate.
Madhusudan Das, assistant commissioner of DB police, coordinating the investigation, said this is a high priority case and they received information of loans being taken from different banks with forged documents.
"We have sought assistance from Bangladesh Bank for CIB reports. We will conduct a drive against these people who forged documents after we get the reports," he added.
Meanwhile, on December 22, the NID wing handed over a broker to Rapid Action Battalion after he was found trying to reduce an NID card holder's age by 10 years.
The arrestee was identified as Bahadur, who had promised to change the date of year of an applicant named Nur Jalal Sheikh in exchange of Tk 1.5 lakh.
Nur said he already paid Tk 1.05 lakh to Bahadur as he badly needed to reduce 10 years from the NID card to secure a permanent job, reads a statement of the NID wing.
On August 30, EC filed a case against the JKG Health Care chairman Dr Sabrina Arif Chowdhury for obtaining a second NID card.
The biggest case of NID fraud was reported from Chattogram in 2019 when several people were arrested for making NID cards for Rohingyas. Besides, a syndicate was found selling land of one MA Wadud in Kushtia after forging his NID card in the same year.
Brig Gen Mohammed Saidul Islam, director general of NID wing, said, "Exemplary punishment is meted out to those who are involved in this irregularity, regardless of the organisation he or she belongs to. There is an inquiry committee to check the crime and the commission takes action on the basis of the recommendations of the committee."
He told The Daily Star that to stop such crimes, they were working to make facial recognition and iris scanning mandatory for citizensto receive fresh NID cards.
Officials in the NID wing said staffers responsible for giving input of any NID file into the server now have to provide their digital signature every time for each file after it is prepared by a data entry operator.
Besides, there has been a shuffle among EC officials after the recent arrests, they added.