The CBI on Sunday arrested three income tax (I-T) officials and two of their accomplices in connection with a Rs 3-crore fraudulent tax refund scam.  The arrested I-T officials are inspector Pramod Prabhakar, tax assistant Raju Nagpure and senior tax assistant Rajesh Pillai. Another I-T official Shrikant is on the run. The others who have been arrested are Dilip Vyas and Manoj Sangtiyani, a little known television actor.

TOI was the first to break the story in its January 21 edition. The others who are being investigated are Ninad Dalvi and Sandeep Roy, assistants of business partners Vyas and Mohan Gadge.

All of them succeeded in excracting from the I-T department fraudluent tax refunds, amounting to over Rs 3 crore, in the names of 23 people. Vyas and Gadge floated five firms mostly in Dahisar, Nallasopara and Virar. They with their assistants identified 23 people, all PAN card holders, re por tedly r u n n i n g small businesses but with no taxable income. These people mostly resided in chawls and had never filed their tax returns.

The quartet approached these people and offered them commission for extending help in the fraud. “We are investigating how much these people were paid for lending their names,” DIG Sonali Mishra said. They gave them Rs 1,000 each for opening bank accounts and collected signed blank cheques from them. The accused have distributed Rs 1.6 crore among themselves.

The four filed tax returns of these people using the PAN card details they had furnished and claimed refund of tax deducted at source (TDS). Returns were processed by the central circle of the I-T department. “The I-T officials helped them enter the computer network,” said Superintendent of Police Abhin Modak.

After the refunds were issued, the tax files of 23 people were transferred to their respective assessment units. The tax refunds were credited into the bank accounts of the 23. The four, who had in their possession blank cheques of these 23 people, withdrew the amount, CBI said.

CBI joint director Rishi Raj Singh said there is a lacunae in the I-T computer system. “The I-T officials enter the system with the help of a security token. The password changes automatically in a specified time but the machine remain valid for four hours for processing even after logging out,” he said. The software is not capable of making online checking of TDS payments with the master data stored with National Securities Depository Limited. Timely detection has prevented Rs 6 crore from being withdrawn from the system, CBI said.

REPORT OF MUMBAI MIRROR ON THE ABOVE

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) have arrested five con men, including Income-Tax (I-T) officials and a TV serial actor, for allegedly duping the I-T Department of Rs 6 crore. This they did by filing fake I-T returns of PAN card holders, and then illegally transferring the refunds to their own accounts.

Those arrested were identified as Dilip Vyas, Manoj Sangitiyani, Pramod Prabhakar, Raju Nagpure and Rajesh Pillai. Two more accused, Mohan Ghadge and Sandeep Roy, are absconding, while another two, Ninad Dalvi and Shrikant Pillai, are under the CBI scanner.

According to CBI officials, Vyas and Ghadge are business partners supplying construction material, while Dalvi and Roy are their assistants. Sangitiyani is a television actor who played the role of Ravan’s son Meghnad in Ramayan, while Prabhakar, Nagpure and Pillai are I-T officials.

The modus operandi, said CBI officials, was unusual. Vyas and Ghadge, with assistance from Dalvi and Roy, collected PAN card numbers, bank account details and post dated cheques from 102 persons. Vyas then prepared fake I-T returns, computation sheets and other related documents, which were delivered to Prabhakar through Sangitiyani.

Prabhakar entered the data into the computer system of the I-T department and generated e-refunds which would be electronically transferred to the respective bank accounts.

In this manner, Rs 14 crore was credited to the bank accounts of the 102 PAN card holders, which the accused then withdrew from the accounts using the signed blank cheques.

When the fraud came to light, the total amount involved was Rs 14 crore. However, officials managed to block the system and thereby prevent Rs 8 crore from being withdrawn. Till now, the officials have checked 23 accounts. Mumbai Mirror’s report in this regard on January 22 `I-T department under hacker attack’ mentioned this.

According to I-T sources, the incident had first come to light in December when an additional commissioner discovered that unauthorised remittances had been made from his section. He informed his seniors, and further investigations revealed that the Electronic Clearing Service had been hacked into. The case was then handed over to the CBI.

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