The kingpin, Mayank Khanna (24), a BCom graduate from a Greater Noida college, and his accomplice, Pradeep Gaur (28), a property dealer in Ghaziabad, were picked up from Kotwali area. Police said they have recovered Rs 1.95 lakhs from the duo and three others, Yash Mehta, Gautam Vashney and Satish, are on the run.
“The youths have duped more than 25 people in Delhi-NCR and they have fraudulently taken over Rs 7 lakhs from 12 Ghaziabad residents in just three days,” said Nipun Aggarwal, SP city-1.
He said for the past few days, they were getting complaints from attendants of Covid patients who said they had been duped after being promised oxygen beds.
“We then decided to deploy policemen in plain clothes outside some private and government Covid hospitals. One officer came across the suspects and we arrested them,” Aggarwal said.
According to him, the gang members had created fake websites of prominent private hospitals. They also posted a name, Dr Chirag, as the nodal officer of the facility, and a contact number.
“The accused told the police that although the administration had appointed nodal officers for hospitals, their names are not known to the general public. The youths took advantage of that,” he said.
They would look for targets outside Covid hospitals and once they zeroed in on someone, Mayank would introduce himself to that person as Dr Chirag, the nodal officer of the hospital.
“They would show the attendant the fake website of the hospital. The youths would say they could help arrange for an oxygen bed for the patient and share their contact number with the attendants. They would also ask the attendants to call them after an hour,” Aggarwal said.
When the attendants, most of whom would be desperately looking for a bed, called up the youths, the accused would ask them to share the patient’s Aadhaar card, Covid test reports and oxygen levels. “After a few hours, the youths would tell the family that they have got an oxygen bed and it had to be ‘booked’ online urgently because of the rush. Once the attendant agreed, they would give him/her a mobile number, which they said, was a direct link to the hospital’s reception desk,” Aggarwal said.
When a call was made on that number, the family would be asked to transfer an “advance” of Rs 50,000 to Rs 70,000 to “book” the bed. “The gang members would tell the family several people are in the queue and unless the money was deposited, the bed could not be guaranteed,” Aggarwal said.
In most cases, the amount was deposited almost immediately. “After that, the attendants would be asked to get the patient to the hospital. But later, all numbers provided would be switched off,” the officer said. The youths used one phone number for one target and Satish used to supply SIM cards.
Gautam handled bank accounts and he would take 30% against each transaction. Pradeep kept records of all transfers. Yash used to pose as Mayank’s junior when they met patients’ attendants. A search is on to trace Yash, Gautam and Satish, said an officer. Mayank and Pradeep have been booked under Section 420 (punishment for cheating) of the IPC and IT Act, Epidemic Diseases Act and the Disaster Management Act.