Promising jobs, fraud gang pockets crores
When people started losing jobs during the pandemic, a group of fraudsters exploited the opportunity and started swindling the dispirited people by promising them a better life.
The fraudsters first made some demi-official (DO) letters, forging signatures of three ministers and some members of parliament.
They then used to show the letters to job-seekers, tempting them with job opportunities. Once someone fell for the trick, the criminals would make a Tk 10 to 15 lakh contract with the job-seekers, and take Tk 3 to 5 lakh in advance.
After the advance payment was made, the fraudsters just disappeared.
Criminal Investigation Department (CID) claimed to have arrested three members of the fraudster gang, including the ringleader.
The arrestees are Harun-or-Rashid, Sekendar Ali and Masud Rana, said Md Imam Hossain, additional deputy inspector general of CID (Dhaka Metro).
He said they arrested the three from the capital's Paltan on Sunday, after four victims filed complaints.
CID teams have also seized four fake appointment letters of government offices, three applications of different ministries, six bank cheques signed by victims and 24 blank stamp papers.
The fraudsters have pocketed money from around 90 victims so far, claimed CID officials.
They used to take signed blank stamps from victims, so that no one would be able to file complaints with police, they said.
Sometimes, just to earn their trust, the gang would manage internships for the job-seekers for some days.
During the period, the gang informed victims that if their work was satisfactory, then they would be permanently appointed. However, the companies never provided jobs after the internship period, said investigators.
CID says the gang's mastermind Harun, who hails from Naogaon, used to work in a Hajj agency, but lost his job during the pandemic. Since then, he has been defrauding people, said officials.
He used to hire an SUV and visit different areas of Naogaon. Before visits, he hired some locals by paying them Tk 5,000 to 10,000. The locals' job was to spread good news about Harun.
While visiting, Harun would also give money to people and mosques, said investigators.
The hired locals would say that Harun is an influential person and can open doors, they said.
For example, Sheikh Mintu, one of the victims who is from Bagerhat, is now working as a lineman for Palli Bidyut of Naogaon. Harun and his gang had promised to transfer Mintu to Bagerhat, and Mintu paid them an amount after believing the gang, according to complaints.
Asked about the amount pocketed by fraudsters, CID's Imam said they are trying to get details by interrogating the arrestees. The fraudsters stole at least Tk 2 crore.
Investigators said as the fraudsters are from Naogaon, the majority of DO letters had the name of Food Minister Sadhan Chandra Majumder.
Contacted last night, Minister Sadhan told The Daily Star that he did not provide any DO letter to any department. "I was totally unaware about the fraud, and no one complained to me yet," he said.