At least six incidents of cheating have surfaced recently in three upazilas of Dinajpur, Rangpur and Gaibandha where fraudsters allegedly used cloned cellphone numbers of upazila nirbahi officers (UNO) to dupe teachers into paying bribe.
The fraudsters have been calling the teachers from the numbers of the UNOs and asking them to send money to particular bKash accounts in exchange for release of government funds for their respective educational institutions, said many of the victims.
A number of teachers in Gaibandha Sadar upazila said they also received similar calls, but they did not send any money to the numbers.
So far, four incidents were reported in Hakimpur upazila of Dinajpur, where each victim sent Tk 7,000 to such accounts.
According to a general diary (GD) filed by the office of UNO in Hakimpur, someone claiming to be the UNO called an assistant of Hakimpur upazila education officer from an unknown number on July 3 morning.
When the assistant said he could not recognise whether that number belonged to the UNO, the caller hung up the call and immediately called back from the official number of the UNO. The caller then asked the assistant to convey a message that he wished to speak with all superintendents of madrasas in the upazila.
After receiving the message from the assistant, Bishapara Dakhil Madrasa Superintendent Rustam Ali contacted the UNO and he was cheated out of Tk 7,000 as the UNO allegedly asked him to send the amount to a bKash account to avail government funds for his institution.
In Taraganj upazila of Rangpur, Anisul Haque, principal of Kazipara Adarsha Women’s BM College, said on the morning of July 10, someone claiming to be the UNO of the upazila called and asked him to send Tk 8,000 to a bKash account if he wished to receive government funds for purchasing computer accessories for his institution.
After transferring the money as advised, Anisul later found out that he was cheated and the number he was called from was a cloned number of the UNO.
The Taraganj UNO, Aminul Islam, said he also learnt about the incident after the money transfer already took place.
In another GD filed in Gaibandha’s Sadullapur upazila, it was reported that a schoolteacher sent Tk 7,000 to a bKash account after he was called from the UNO’s number on July 8, asking him to send the money to avail government funds for his institution.
Anwar Hossain, Zinnat Ali and Arshedul Haq -- officers-in-charge of Hakimpur, Taraganj and Sadullapur police stations -- said they launched an investigation into the allegations and the phone numbers along with the bKash account numbers were sent to the police headquarters for tracking.