Woh Con Thi: Woman poses as IFS officer, enjoys VIP security for 18 months
She did her Masters in political science from Delhi University and wanted to be a civil servant. She failed the exam in 2007 but her desires to enjoy VIP perks kept growing bigger. She went for short cuts, used advanced tech and old tricks and got what she wanted. For 18 months, that is.
Noida Police said on Thursday that they have arrested Zoya Khan, who posed as a fake Indian Foreign Service (IFS) officer, and her former banker husband Harsh Pratap Singh for conning multiple agencies and enjoying government gunners and police escorts across NCR towns such as Noida, Gurugram, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Moradabad. When she was with her government security, police personnel and others used to salute her, it has been learnt during police investigation.
On March 23, Khan phoned Gautam Buddh Nagar (Noida) SSP Vaibhav Krishna and yelled at him for delaying police escorts. The cop got suspicious and ordered an investigation and a raid. Her cover was blown. They were arrested from their rented 3-BHK apartment in Noida Extension's Gaur City-2. Khan, 35, is a Meerut-based doctor's daughter. Singh, 40, is a Kanpur police officer's son.
The duo had a court marriage six years ago. Singh quit his banking job two years ago to prepare for civil service exams. Two of the fake identity cards recovered from Khan showed she was also posing as a UNSC nuclear officer and a US diplomat in Afghanistan.
The police also seized two luxury cars (a black Mahindra XUV 500 with Delhi registration number plate and blue beacon, and a grey Mercedes with Haryana number plate), laptops, phones, walkietalkies and a fake pistol from them.
It was also claimed that at Prime Minister Narendra Modi's rally in Meerut last week, police provided her with security. Media reports even claimed she was in the PM's security team, adding that she has sent information to Afghanistan and some other nations. However, Noida Police denied the claims, with SSP Krishna saying that no such evidence exists.
"No evidence of these two arrested accused going to the PM's rally in Meerut. The so-called 'Afghanistan' connection has not been found. Please do not sensationalise things. This is a cheating/forgery case only," Krishna tweeted.
HOW SHE DID IT
She used a mobile app that made her sound like a male and created fake e-mail addresses. "The duo made fake ID cards. In one of her forged cards, she posed as Nuclear Policy Officer of United Nations Security Council. She also had a fake United States Department of State card. Another of her card mentions Afghanistan Embassy," SSP Krishna said.
During investigation, it has been learnt that she had made a fake email ID - firstname.lastname@example.org to drop mails to senior police officials demanding government gunners to escort her.
To avoid being caught, she registered the fake ID with Godaddy domain and paid the registration fee via net banking, it has been learnt. "Apart from the forged documents, two laptops, two walkietalkies, four android mobile phones, one fake pistol and two luxurious cars have been recovered from the duo," the SSP said.
Cops are not ruling out security breach and info leak possibilities. "A planner has been recovered from her residence that mentions the dates of a few political rallies in Delhi-NCR. Even on her laptop, these dates are marked," an official said.
She is being quizzed by Noida Police and the National Investigation Agency (NIA) is likely to probe the matter. "A few photographs of top politicians in a separate folder on her laptop also raised suspicion about her vested interests," the official said, adding that her call detail records (CDR) along with her recent locations are being scrutinised to establish whether she was planning any attack or posing as a threat to top politicians.
She used to make telephonic calls to senior police officials including SSPs while posing as 'Personal Assistant (PA) to Joint Secretary (Foreign)'. She used an application (voice converter) in her android phone that converts her female voice to male one.
It helped her in impersonating and instructing police officials to provide escort services. She made several calls to the VIP Cell and the SP Traffic office of Gautam Buddh Nagar to avail herself of police escort facilities.
"The mobile phones have been sent for forensic examinations. Also, deleted WhatsApp chats and other social media platforms will also be retrieved to ascertain the exact motive," a police official said. Cops are also likely to seek help from cyber experts to find out detailed information on her recent Google searches. "We are investigating the matter from all possible angles," SSP Krishna said.