Fraudsters rob Indian Railways of Rs 100 crore

Rakesh Ranjan

NEW DELHI: A pan-India syndicate of ticketing frauds which has inflicted a loss of over Rs 100 crore has rocked the Indian Railways.

Fraudsters have been duping the railways of crores of rupees every month by getting refund of used tickets by forging a copy of the same. Railway officials suspect involvement of insiders who pass on the passenger related information to this syndicate which is used to make the fake tickets look genuine.

This is, however, the tip of the iceberg. The syndicate was unearthed by the vigilance department of Northern Railways during routine raids conducted against the unauthorised travel agents and touts; investigations are soon going to be initiated across the remaining 15 railway zones in the country. Senior officials said the monetary loss to the government exchequer may run into hundreds of crores every year.

“During checks it was noticed that some unidentified men had claimed refund of Rs 60 lakh by cancelling tickets after departure of trains. While the cancelled tickets belonged to trains originating from Delhi, they used remote places in South Indian states to cancel the tickets,” said a senior vigilance official.

In one such case it was found that six tickets to Guwahati in Dibrugarh Rajdhani Express were cancelled from a reservation counter in Vijaywada after scheduled departure of the train from New Delhi. The ticketing frauds have a unique modus operandi. Having received passenger information from insiders, the fraudsters print fake tickets using the same details.

The fake tickets were subsequently cancelled by the gang members at remotely located reservation counters after the departure of train from the source station. As per the rules a PRS ticket can be cancelled from any reservation centre across the country and the travelers can get 50 per cent refund of the ticket price after two hours of trains’ departure. This, officials said, also put the train, in trouble.

Northern Railways chief spokesperson Neeraj Sharma admitted to the fraud and said, “The fraud has been detected by the Northern Railways. Senior officials and members of the Railway Board have been informed and further investigations will be taken up.”

A senior railway official put the estimated loss to over Rs 100 crore. “The fraud detected in Delhi is just one scenario.The syndicate is active across all 16 administrative zones in the country.

If gone through the conservative estimate, the initial loss will exceed Rs 100 crore. However, the final figure can be calculated only after carrying out intensive checking and investigation across the country.

In all possibilities, the loss will go up many times after taking into account similar frauds conducted in other cities,” said the official.

Explaining it further, officials said the fraudsters wait till 90 minutes after departure of train and then approach any reservation counter in any part of the country and would ask the official to claim the refund citing his inability to travel.

The syndicate targeted high-end and long-route trains like the Rajdhani Express, Duronto Express and other sought-after trains. They usually forged bulk tickets where four to six passengers were travelling on a PNR number.

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2015. MTNPL. All rights reserved.