In Okara, Punjab, a three-member gang has been caught making plastic thumbs and collecting money from deserving citizens under the Ehsas Kafaalat Program.
The Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) arrested the group this week, seizing a large number of mobile SIMs, plastic thumbs, ATM cards, and identity cards, as well as unparalleled income. Support and Ehsas Kafaalat program cards and 200,000 cash were also recovered.
According to the CIA, the suspects used the Ehsas program and the Benazir Income Support Program to make plastic thumbprints with the help of fingerprints of people registered for government assistance.
During the interrogation, the accused revealed that they had withdrawn millions of rupees from several franchises, while the aid of 350 people could not be withdrawn due to non-transfer after December.
DSP Mehr Yousuf, head of the CIA team that conducted the operation, told that he had been informed a few days ago that a group of people take out the money of people registered for Ehsas Kafaalat program (formerly Benazir Income Support Program), on which a team was formed this week. The team secretly traced the suspects and tried to catch the culprits.
He said that all the three accused were well trained. They first sought information on who were registered for government assistance, then obtained their identity cards by tricking them into withdrawing money, got 350 mobile SIMs in their name and make plastic thumbprints from Lahore with fingerprints.
According to Mehr Yousuf, the accused were all set to withdraw Rs 6,000 per person from the government. The plan was ready, but it failed because the government has not been providing monthly assistance since December which is likely to resume in the first week of April.
Yousuf added if the money was transferred, they would have immediately collected the relief money for the 350 people, which amounts to about Rs.2.1 million, and then might have not even be caught.
According to DSP Mehr Yousuf, the government has set three stages of verification for recovery of relief money. First an identity card, then a mobile SIM, and a third thumb biometric verification, but the accused had arranged this verification process.
He further said that these accused have already squandered millions of rupees by withdrawing relief money.
DSP Mehr Yousuf said that three cases have been registered against the accused and after preliminary investigation, they have been transferred to jail on the order of the court.