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Hyderabad: The Cyberabad police on Thursday claimed to have busted a gang that was allegedly involved in stealing and selling confidential personal data of 168 million citizens in the country, and sensitive data of government and important organisations.

The police arrested seven people operating from Noida and Pune involved in theft, procuring and selling sensitive and confidential data.

The gang was also allegedly selling key data of defence and Army personnel to cyber criminals.

Cyberabad Police Commissioner Stephen Ravindra announced the arrest of the accused individuals at a news conference. He said they would write to the Home Ministry for further inquiry in the data theft case.

The accused were found selling information relating to more than 140 categories of people including defence personnel, bank customers, energy sector consumers, NEET students, government employees, gas agencies, high net worth individuals, demat account holders.

Other categories include Bengaluru women consumer data, data of people who have applied for loans and insurance, credit card and debit card holders of certain banks, WhatsApp users, Facebook users, employees of IT companies and frequent flyers.

“When any individual calls the toll-free numbers of JustDial and asks for any sector or category related confidential data of individuals, their query is listed and sent to that category of service provider. Then these fraudsters call those clients/ fraudsters and send them samples. If the client agrees to purchase, they make payment and provide the data. This data is further used for committing crime,” said the commissioner.

The gang allegedly operated through registered and unregistered companies Data Mart Infotech, Global Data Arts and MS Digital Grow.

Sensitive data of 250,000 defence personnel containing their ranks, email ids, place of posting, etc was found available with those accused.

The accused had also accessed data of 9.8 million people who had applied for credit cards.

“The sensitive data can be used for unauthorised access to important organisations and institutions. The data of defence and government employees can be used for espionage, impersonation and commit serious offences which may jeopardise national security. The data related to PAN cards can be used to commit serious offences. The data is being used to commit a large number of cybercrimes by gaining confidence with victims by disclosing the information,” Stephen Ravindra said.