The Railway Protection Force of the South Western Railways on Tuesday claimed a major breakthrough in busting a cross border criminal gang involved in illegal software for e-tickets by arresting the kingpin and over 100-panel developers.

According to the Chief Public Relations Officer of South Western Railway, Hubballi, the illegal operators and hackers used Pakistani software to compromise the IRCTC Tatkal system to book reserved tickets, bypassing the Indian Railways as well as the bank security systems.

An official said in September 2019 intelligence agencies had alerted the use of illegal software for bypassing the IRCTC and Bank security systems deployed in booking tatkal tickets throughout India. After multiple raids by SWR RPF sleuths a criminal was arrested who provided lead about a mastermind of illegal software business who would deployed software to bypass the IRCTC Tatkal system and even bank OTP and directly book tickets extorting premium (four to five times the Railway ticket price) from passengers.

The criminal had fled to Bangalore and was on the run from October 2019. In January 2020, his whereabouts were tracked to Odisha’s Kenderpara where he was arrested and brought to Bangalore for further investigation by Bangalore RPF team.

During the interrogation, it was understood that he was having Pakistani based software of high-level hacking Linux based systems for hacking devices applications to ISRO, Railways and other government organizations, 3,000 bank account details, Bitcoins and other Cryptocurrency links.

He was further interrogated and the entire black market of 25,000 hackers and touts with high command in India and abroad were detected. The black money generated from this illegal activity amounted in hundreds of crores and it was linked to various other anti-national and criminal activities throughout the country and abroad.

As a result of this activity, unauthorized tickets were booked and genuine passengers could not book e-tickets through IRCTC personal IDs as in seconds of opening the tickets would vanish as the gang was using powerful software.

There were around 25,000 hackers involved all India with a cadre-based hierarchy where touts would generate demand bring it to sellers who used the software to compromise the system. These sellers, in turn, reported to panel developers who would give them access to the software for monthly charges.

These panel developers would report to financial and technical Admins whose main job was to maintain the servers hosted in foreign countries and then the illegal money generated is suspected to be used in terror funding making illegal documents for hostile foreign nations money laundering through cryptocurrency etc.

An All India racket of hackers and touts using various high-level illegal software’s which compromised the entire e-ticketing system of IRCTC and banks too was unearthed by RPF SWR. With the top-level intervention by DG/RPF who personally co-ordinated through DIG Railway Board, various raids throughout India were conducted and subsequently over 100-panel developers and software sellers were arrested throughout India. The software codes were seized and destroyed.

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