UP police bust petrol pump scam with pan-India link

The Special Task Force (STF) of the Uttar Pradesh (UP) police have busted a multi-crore scam involving petrol pumps across various states were found to have used remote-controlled electronic chips in their fuel dispensing machines to cheat customers by providing less fuel than paid for.

Reports said a customer refuelling at a petrol pump gets only 940 ml for every 1 litre petrol he pays for if the pump is so remote-controlled, while the remaining 60 ml is credited to the pump owner's account.

While the allegations of cheating were existant for a long time, this is the first time these have eff3ectively been proved.

The UP STF has arrested several persons from Maharashtra, including from Thane and Pune, in connection with the scam, according to reports.

The STF has so far arrested about 28 persons in this case registered at the Para police station in Lucknow, under sections 267, 420, 472, 473, 484, 485, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

STF believes it to be the tip of a nationwide scam involving petrol dealers across various states.

''It is a widespread scam. We have informed the ministry of petroleum to conduct checks at all petrol pumps in the country,'' The Indian Express quoted senior superintendent of police (SSP) Amit Pathak of UP STF as saying.

Sleuths of the UP STF, along with the crime branch of Thane police, arrested Avinash Manohar Naik, resident of Sai Vihar apartment near Rail Vihar on the Gurudwara Road in Chinchwad. Police also arrested Vivek Harishchandra Shetye, a resident of a row house in Chandresh Villa Co-operative Housing Society, Lodha Heaven, Nilje, Dombivali east, in Thane district.

So far about 28 persons have been arrested in this case registered at the Para police station in Lucknow, under sections 267, 420, 472, 473, 484, 485, 468, 471 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).

STF Additional SP Arvind Chaturvedi said Vivek Shetye and Naik, arrested from Maharashtra, are among the masterminds. ''Vivek was allegedly involved in manufacturing of the electronic chips and software installation. Naik was allegedly involved in assembling and supplying the remotes, which were used for tampering the fuel dispensing units at the petrol pumps,'' he said.

Chaturvedi said that once the chip was installed in the fuel-dispensing unit, it reduces the output by 5 to 8 per cent. ''If a customer goes to a petrol pump for refuelling 1 litre petrol in his vehicle, he actually gets only 940 ml petrol as the chip fitted in the fuel dispensing machine does the trick. The 60 ml fuel goes into the account of the pump owner,'' he said.

Chaturvedi said the petrol pump scam is worth Rs 800 crore per month in UP alone. ''This is happening at most of the 62,000 petrol pumps across the country. The scam could be more than Rs8,000 crore per month in the country. And it has been going on for 10 years now. You can just imagine, how big the scam is,'' he said.

''In our first raid on April 28, we had arrested 23 people after seven petrol pumps in Lucknow city were found using electronic chip linked with remote controls in their fuel-dispensing machines to cheat consumers by providing them less fuel. More petrol pumps were found using these electronic chips during the probe. The UP government then ordered checking of all petrol pumps in the state. It is a challenge to check about 6,000 petrol pumps in UP. And, it was important to know how the electronic chips and remotes used in this scam were manufactured. Based on leads during the investigation, our team went to Maharashtra and arrested Vivek Shetye from Thane and Avinash Naik from Pune,'' Chaturvedi said.

''From the probe so far, we can say that the two accused persons are masterminds and they have pan-India connections. We suspect many petrol pumps in the country have purchased the electronic chips and remotes from the racketeers for tampering their fuel dispensing units,'' said Chaturvedi.

Police have recovered 110 micro chips, 21 RX Receivers, Remotes, Display Boards, a laptop, an oscilloscope, a Pendrive with software and other items from Shetye's Micro CKT workshop located in Dileep Nagar, Vico Naka, Kalyansheel Road in Dombivali East, Manpada, Thane. Also, police recovered 177 Remotes, 189 RX Receivers, a laptop, 50 remote cells from Naik's workplace, Vigil System Company, at Jai Ganesh Vision in Akurdi. STF took the accused persons to UP after taking their transit remands from the local courts.

The Vigil System in Akurdi, which is run by Jeetendra Patil, offers a wide range of innovate products like RF Remote operated Bike and Car Security System, 2 way car security system, Burglar Alarm System.

Patil, however, refuted allegations against Naik, his only employee. He said his company does not develop chips and only procures these from other agencies based in Mumbai and Delhi. The remotes are modified for use for remote-operated car and bike system.