Intense sessions on Facebook, following friends' list for all probable leads, and tracking details of call records of some suspects led the CBI finally to a 54-year-old Mumbai fraudster, who had been eluding the central investigating agency for nearly 20 years.
The CBI sleuths arrested Deepak Poddar from Bangalore, where he was traced through the Facebook account of his nephews.
Poddar, a proclaimed offender since the early 90s, had falsely remitted foreign exchange worth Rs 67.15 lakh until 1989, and had been absconding from the day a case was registered against him. In Bangalore, he was living with a female friend and was running a real estate business in his own name.
It was investigating officer Rupesh Kumar Srivastava, who cracked the decade-old case during a fresh attempt by the CBI to nab all proclaimed offenders.
The case against Poddar was registered in 1991 and the charge-sheet filed in 1996. According to officials, Poddar had opened a fake import-export firm, where he forged lading bills, claiming he was importing material, which actually was not the case. And on the basis of forged lading bills, he claimed remittance worth around Rs 67 lakh from Central Bank of India from 1985 to 1989.
The investigators had little hope of success when they started out. "On searching Deepak Poddar on Facebook, we found a Mumbai-based businessmen group, where one of the businessman was a friend of just two young students. It seemed a little strange, so we followed the accounts of these kids," said a senior CBI official.
Interestingly, the two, based in Bangalore, had many friends on Facebook, who were witnesses in the Deepak Poddar case. Once they realised this, CBI followed their trail seriously and a team was sent to Bangalore, where it met the two children, a 11-year-old and a 14-year-old, in their school.
"They had no idea about Deepak Poddar's name, but confirmed their parents name and address. We met their father, who accepted that Deepak was his brother, but said they weren't in touch for many years," said an officer adding: "He even claimed Deepak had even duped the family."
However, while being questioned, the sleuths found Deepak's brother suspiciously fiddling with his phone. That alerted them. And they tracked a phone number they got from his phone and managed to locate Deepak, who was already aware of what had been happening.
When they reached Deepak's residence, it was locked and when they tried to barge in, Deepak's female friend intervened even as she kept informing someone as to what was happening.
"She was informing another man, who in turn helped Deepak plan his moves. But when we interrogated this man, he finally led us to Deepak," the official added.
The CBI has obtained the transit remand and Deepak will soon be brought to Delhi and produced in court.