PayTm Data theft case

Paytm’s owner, Vijay Shekhar Sharma, and his brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma are alleging data theft and extortion in a case that gets murkier as more details come out.

Case in Brief 

An FIR was registered by Noida Police on 22 October, 2018 on the complaint of data theft and extortion filed by the owner of PayTm i.e., Vijay Shekhar Sharma and his brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma. It alleged that four people tried to extort Rs 10 crore from Paytm’s owner against the stolen data. The alleged blackmailers also threatened to make the data public and defame Vijay Shekhar Sharma if ransom was not paid.

The FIR named four persons as accused – Sonia Dhawan (Paytm employee and personal secretary of Vijay); Roopak Jain (Sonia’s husband); Devinder Kumar (Paytm employee); and Rohit Chomwal (a businessman from Kolkata).

The FIR doesn’t reveal the nature of the data stolen nor has complainant commented on the nature the data. A lot of assumptions and speculation came out in the media that the data could be related to Paytm users’ personal details, which could be misused or sold by the alleged blackmailers.

Rohit Chomal had initially demanded Rs. 30 crore from Paytm chiefs Vijay Shekhar and his brother Ajay Shekhar. “It came down to Rs. 20 crore and then to Rs. 10 crore. Rohit Chomal shared a few passwords with the Shekhar brothers to convince them that he was in possession of crucial data.

What is in the Stolen Data??

Dr Ajay Pal Sharma, Senior Superintendent of Police, Gautam Budh Nagar district has confirmed that the stolen data is related to Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s personal life and is not related to the PayTm users` personal data.

Noida Police has claimed that a CD was recovered from one of the accused which allegedly contains stolen data. The CD has been sent for Forensic examination.

The Mastermind of Data Theft !!

The FIR reveals that Mr. Rohit Chomwal was the mastermind in the data stolen case. He was directly communicating with Vijay and Ajay Shekhar Sharma through WhatsApp calls and messages.

A small part of the ransom money of Rs. 2,00,067 was transferred into Rohit Chomwal’s bank account in two tranches, Rs 67 and Rs 2 lakhs, on 10 and 15 October, 2018, respectively.

Interestingly, the key player, Rohit Chomwal, is still at large and he has not been questioned by the police even once. Meanwhile, Sonia, Roopak and Devinder were arrested and are still in jail. Sonia’s bail application came up for hearing on 4 December, 2018 which was adjourned due to lack of some documents.

In November 2018, Rohit Chomwal moved an application in the Allahabad High Court which gave him protection from being arrested till the investigation is completed.

The writ petition alleges that Rohit Chomwal has been wrongly accused in the case and has been made an “escape goat” (sic) especially when the petitioner (i.e: Rohit Chomwal) helped Vijay Shekhar and his brother in apprehending the three ‘culprits’.

CURRENT SCENERIO

Sonia Dhawan’s bail hearing was adjourned on 4 December, 2018 by the Surajpur district sessions court due to lack of some documents. The next hearing will now be held on 11 December, 2018.

The family had moved the court for Dhwan’s bail after almost three weeks of judicial custody.

Last month, her husband Rupak Jain’s bail appeal was rejected by the court. The family will now have to move the Allahabad High Court for Rupak Jain, who was arrested along with Sonia Dhawan for allegedly being a part of an extortion plot.

Sonia Dhawan and Rupak Jain along with Devendra Kumar,  were arrested on 22 September, 2018 for allegedly trying to extort a sum of Rs 10 crore from Paytm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma.

Interestingly, the fourth accused who had made extortion calls to Vijay Shekhar Sharma and Ajay Shekhar Sharma and on whose tip, Dhawan and the rest of two accused were arrested has got a stay from the Allahabad High Court against his arrest.

Giving the reference of a 1994 case of Joginder Kumar Versus state of Uttar Pradesh, the High Court in its order dated November 12 said that Chomwal shall not be arrested till credible evidence was collected by the investigation officer during investigation.

This happens even when Dhawan and her husband are struggling to get bail after spending 43 nights in judicial custody.

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