Sleuths of Railway Protection Force (RPF) from the South Western Railway (SWR) zone have busted a web of illegal operators and hackers on Tuesday.

These groups used Pakistani software to compromise the IRCTC Tatkal system to stealthily book reserved tickets.

“The hackers used to bypass the Indian Railways as well as the banks OTP safeguards,” informed an SWR zone official.

The official further informed that in September 2019, the intelligence agencies alerted on the use of illegal software for bypassing the IRCTC and bank security systems deployed in booking Tatkal tickets throughout India.

The official further informed that following multiple raids after the alert, RPF officials arrested one person.

“The arrested person provided a lead about the mastermind behind the illegal software used for booking the tickets in secrecy, to charge oblivious customers up to five times the price of a normal railway ticket,” the official further said.

It may be mentioned here that the arrested person had fled Bengaluru in October 2019 and was on the run since then.

Moreover, his whereabouts have been traced to Kendrapara in Odisha.

“In January 2020, his whereabouts were tracked to Kendrapara in Odisha where he was arrested and brought to Bengaluru for further investigation by Bengaluru RPF team,” reported newskarnataka.com quoting the official.

Upon investigation the RPF came to know that the accused had been using Pakistani software of high-level hacking calibre, employing Linux-based systems to break into the applications of ISRO, Railways and other government organisations.

Moreover, the man was found using 3,000 bank accounts, Bitcoin and cryptocurrency links.

During interrogation, the arrested man spoke about the entire black market of 25,000 hackers and touts with a high command in India and abroad.

“Hundreds of crores of rupees in black money generated from these activities was linked to several anti-national and criminal activities all over India and overseas,” the official added.

“As a result of this activity, unauthorised tickets were booked and genuine passengers could not book e-tickets through IRCTC personal identities as, within seconds of opening, the tickets would vanish as the gang was using powerful software,” the official said.

Busting the nationwide racket involved top-level intervention at the level of RPF director-general, who personally coordinated through the DIG Railway Board.

As many as 100-panel developers and software sellers were arrested across the country while the officials have destroyed the seized software codes.

Due to the international ramifications of the case, higher authorities in the Indian Railways have given assent for further investigation.

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