Paytm extortion case: Vijay Shekhar Sharma's secretary, her husband, manager among arrested
Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm founder and CEO made headlines on Monday evening as news about his extortion by some blackmailers, including his secretary. Sharma was blackmailed by some people who were threatening to leak his personal data and compromise the reputation of his company, One97 Communications. The blackmailers were trying to extort Rs 20 crore from the Paytm founder before they were caught.
Sharma's personal secretary whose name has not been revealed by the police, her husband and property dealer Rupak Jain, and a manager in Paytm's administration department, Devendra Kumar, have been arrested. A fourth person, whose name has also not been revealed by the police and who is based out of Kolkata, is absconding, the police said.
The fourth person called from Kolkata with his demand. Sharma wired Rs 2 lakh to the accomplice on October 15. "After getting Rs 2 lakh, the extortionist called again and even revealed he was from Kolkata. We put the call under technical surveillance and found that Sharma's personal secretary as well as her husband and Kumar were all linked to this caller," said Ajay Pal Sharma, Senior Superintendent of Police, Gautam Budh Nagar, as mentioned in a report in Business Standard.
According to Ajay Shekhar Sharma, Vijay Shekhar Sharma's brother, the first call came on September 20, as mentioned in a report in Hindustan Times. He said that he received a call around 4 pm, before which his brother had received on at 11 am. The caller, Chomal, claimed to have access to the data and threatened to leak it if he was not paid Rs 20 crore. He said that after a few more calls, they transferred Rs 2,00,000 on October 15, after which the caller demanded another Rs 10 crore. When asked what kind of data he had and how he got it, Chomal revealed that the woman employee, her husband and Devendra had stolen it.
According to reports, Sharma contacted the police a week back to complain about the extortion. The police said that they are not sure of whether the blackmailers were threatening to leak Sharma's personal data or the data of 350 million users.
A senior police officer said that Sharma suspected his personal secretary of being the mastermind. "We are still analysing the data to understand how it would have been damaging to Sharma as well as his firm. We are also checking if the data was duplicated and there are copies," the officer said. Sharma told the police that his personal secretary has access to his laptop and mobile phones and may have stolen data from there. The three accused are currently in police custody.
In a statement released to the media, a Paytm spokesperson said, "The Noida police have arrested three persons, including one woman employee of Paytm, in a case of extortion. The employee, along with two other accomplices, attempted to extort money from Vijay Shekhar Sharma on the pretext of leaking his personal data. We are standing by our colleagues till the police inquiry reaches its meaningful conclusion."
(Edited by Anwesha Madhukalya)