Fake Certificate Scam: Police Track Paper Trail, Identify 15 More Suspects

Pune : Taking their probe into the racket of issuing fake passing certificates and university degrees further, the Pune City police have said they are now probing each of the 2,739 fake documents issued by racketeers over the last six years.

Police also said they have initiated communications with the University Grants Commissioner (UGC) and Maharashtra State Board of Education for further action against these fraudulent platforms.

On May 2, following an investigation of over two months and involving a dummy buyer of the certificate, the Crime Branch of Pune City arrested four persons. The accused were involved in issuing fake matriculation certificates from an entity named the ‘Maharashtra State Open School’.

As per an initial probe, police found that 35 persons had been issued fraudulent certificates through the alleged racket run by the four suspects and their accomplices. Over time, police unearthed the elaborate scam which the accused operated through four fraudulent websites, and sold fake certificates to as many as 2,739 people since 2017.

Police have till now identified 15 suspects, including racketeers and middlemen. In addition to the four initial arrests, including that of the mastermind Sayyed Imran Sayyed Ibrahim, the investigation team has arrested two more agents, taking the number of arrests to six.

Officials said that the suspects charged anywhere between Rs 40,000 and 60,000 for these fake certificates.

“The probe has established that the suspects sold matriculation certificates of a fake entity Maharashtra State Open School and three more websites of entities — one claiming to conduct courses of Industrial Training Institute (ITI) and two claiming to be universities conducting degree courses and awarding degrees.

Following the arrest of the prime suspect and probe into the devices and documents seized from them, we have established that they had issued certificates and degrees to 2,739 people since 2017 in return for money,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police Narayan Shirgaonkar, who is probing the case. However, police have found only the names of people who have received the certificates, and do not have their addresses or phone numbers, the ACP said. “We are now trying to find out these people and the status of each of the persons who bought the document. Till now we have found that in some cases these fake certificates have not been accepted by employers, while some have managed to get jobs on their basis,” he added.

ACP Shirgaonkar added, “Meanwhile, we have contacted the University Grants Commission and the Maharashtra State Board of Education for further action against these fraudulent platforms and requested that these websites be suspended.”

Earlier, sleuths from Pune City Police’s Crime Branch had started working on an input received by ACP Shirgaonkar in February, that a man identified as Sandeep Kamble from Sangli had been selling fake matriculation certificates. A dummy buyer was sent to him for a fake certificate, which the suspect told him would cost him Rs 60,000.

After a series of meetings, on April 30, Kamble was arrested after being caught red-handed while giving the certificate to a dummy buyer and taking money.

During interrogation, Kamble said he had taken the fake certificate from suspects based in Chhatrapati Sambhaji Nagar, earlier known as Aurangabad and Dharashiv, earlier known as Osmanabad. On May 2, the police had arrested Krushna Sonaji Giri, Altaf Shaikh and the main accused, Sayyed Imran Sayyed Ibrahim. A search is now on for 15 more suspects who have been identified and were involved in the sale of the certificates, and other agents and touts.
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