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Business News/ News / India/  How to avoid PAN card misuse? Cybercriminals used Dhoni, Shilpa Shetty, other celebrities' details for fraud

Many people fall prey to cybercriminals in some way or another despite being aware of an increasing number of banking frauds. In a new incident of cybercrime, a group of fraudsters allegedly procured PAN details of several Bollywood actors and cricketers from their GST Identification Numbers which are available online, and got credit cards issued in their names from Pune-base fintech startup ‘One Card’.

These celebrities include Abhishek Bachchan, Shilpa Shetty, Madhuri Dixit, Emraan Hashmi, and Mahendra Singh Dhoni. 

Speaking to the news agency PTI, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Shahadra Rohit Meena said, “Since the investigation into the matter is underway, we cannot comment further on it."

The company got wind of the fraud subsequently but not before the fraudsters used some of these cards to purchase products worth 21.32 lakh. It immediately alerted the Delhi Police which swung into action and arrested five of them. 

Delhi Police sources said that the five accused acted in close coordination to defraud the company in a very unusual manner. These accused are identified as Puneet, Mohd Asif, Sunil Kumar, Pankaj Mishar, and Vishwa Bhaskar Sharma. 

"After arrest, when they were interrogated, they disclosed their unique modus operandi. They used to get GST details of these celebrities from Google. They were very well aware that the first two digits of GSTIN are state code and the next 10 digits are PAN number," one of the sources said.

The source added, "Since the celebrities' date of birth are available on Google, these two -- PAN and date of birth -- complete the PAN details. They got the PAN cards remade fraudulently putting their own pictures on it so that during video verification, their looks match with the photo available on PAN/Aadhaar card."

For instance, the PAN card of Abhishek Bachchan had his PAN and date of birth but a picture of one of the accused. They forged their Aadhaar details in a similar fashion. After getting this information, they applied for credit cards, as per PTI reports. 

During video verification, they were asked questions related to their financial activities which they answered easily as they had got all such details from CIBIL. Police further informed that they were aware that these celebrities possibly have good CIBIL scores which would brighten their chances of getting credit cards.

"Also, they were aware that the online verification system cannot identify Abhishek Bachchan as a film star. So the picture of accused Pankaj Mishra with Abhishek Bachchan's PAN and Aadhaar details worked well to get a card issued," he added.

Further investigation is on and it is suspected that they might have used a similar modus operandi to get credit cards from other banks and financial institutions.

PAN card misuse is becoming an area of concern as most of us are unaware of it being used for cyberfrauds and the danger of information sharing. Here are some tips to avoid PAN misuse,

1) One should avoid entering PAN card details everywhere. 

2) Make sure that you submit your PAN details only to authentic companies. 

3) If it's not a government mandate, one should de-link his Aadhaar card and bank accounts. 

4) Don't reveal your birth date or full name on every online portal because it can be used to track your PAN details. 

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Updated: 03 Mar 2023, 09:06 AM IST
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