Arrested fake IAS officer Debanjan Deb has been impersonating as a joint commissioner of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) for the last four months and has duped a few people of several lakhs of rupees on the pretext of helping them get tenders of the civic body, a Kolkata Police officer said after initial probe.
Mr Deb, who lied to his family about becoming an IAS officer, might have used that money to organise fake Covid-19 vaccination camps, pay salary to his employees and rent for the office, the officer said on Friday.
The 28-year-old man came in contact with several police officers and political leaders while participating in various programmes organised for social causes, the IPS officer said, adding that four persons were called for questioning as part of the investigation.
“Deb was an IAS aspirant but could not crack the UPSC examinations. In 2018, he told his father and relatives that he passed the tests and became an IAS officer,” he said.
Mr Deb told interrogators that he started a business of selling sanitiser, masks and PPE kits last year and made a “good profit” but at that time he did not identify himself as a KMC joint commissioner.
“But slowly, when people started approaching him for help in Covid-19 related needs, Deb promised them assistance as an official and started going around identifying himself as a joint commissioner of the KMC. He fell into his own trap,” the officer said.
He hired a vehicle, recruited men and rented an office in Kasba area of the city, the cop said.
In the process, he came in contact with a few contractors and sub-contractors of the KMC and allegedly cheated two persons.
One of them filed a police complaint alleging that Mr Deb had taken ₹ 10 lakh from him promising him to get a tender of the KMC.
Another person has also approached the sleuths of Kolkata Police, claiming that Deb had taken ₹ 90 lakh from him, out of which ₹ 36 lakh was transferred to a bank account, for getting a tender of the KMC to construct a stadium, the police officer said.
“He might have used the money to run these camps as well as pay salary to the people he had recruited and rent for the office,” the IPS officer said.
However, the probe is still at a very preliminary stage, he said.
“There is not much money left in the accounts about which Deb has told us. Our officers at the anti-bank fraud unit are using his PAN card details to check whether he has any other bank accounts or not. We have also asked the banks to provide details of all transactions he had through these accounts,” he said.
Mr Deb had claimed that he organised a “khichri” distribution camp in Behala with the help of a local club and the police have started verifying it.
The items seized from Deb’s office included pads having fake logos of the KMC and the West Bengal government.
“We have found from his office several letters written by him to secretaries of various departments. It seems that he wrote them to influence people but never dispatched them. We are verifying the matter with the respective persons,” the police officer said.
The Kolkata Police on Friday constituted a Special Investigation Team (SIT) to probe the fake vaccination drive.
Mr Deb held two camps in the city where thousands of people were suspected to have been inoculated.
The police arrested Deb on Wednesday for allegedly posing as an IAS officer and organising a COVID-19 vaccination camp in Kasba area, where actor and Trinamool Congress MP Mimi Chakraborty had also got her jab.
Ms Chakraborty, who was invited to attend the camp, said she became suspicious about the vaccination process as she did not receive the customary SMS that is sent to people after they are administered a dose, and informed the police.
“At the camp held in a college, 72 people have been inoculated. We are trying to find out how many were vaccinated in Kasba,” the officer said.
Mr Deb got labels of Covishield printed from somewhere in Sealdah area of the city, he added.
The fake labels were found pasted on several vials of an antibiotic injection used for a number of bacterial infections.