The PayTm conspiracy: How Sonia Dhawan allegedly blackmailed Vijay Shekhar Sharma and got nabbed

By: | Updated: October 24, 2018 12:19 PM

Among the arrested persons, one is a woman employee - Sonia Dhawan - a long-time personal assistant to Sharma as well as the company’s spokeswoman.

During the probe, it came to light that Dhawan had access to all documents and data of the company. (File photo)

When the data-stealing-blackmail conspiracy against PayTm founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma surfaced, the app users were shocked and concerned about the safety of their data on the payment platform. However, PayTm has said that customers data is absolutely safe and only the data of its founder Vijay Shekhar Sharma was stolen. The police had arrested three employees of the Noida-headquartered e-commerce including Sharma’s secretary who allegedly tried to extort Rs 20 crore from the e-wallet giant’s founder after threatening to leak stolen personal data and confidential information.

The Conspirators

The police have made three arrests in connection with the case and the fourth person is at large. Among the arrested persons, one is a woman employee – Sonia Dhawan – a long-time personal assistant to Sharma as well as the company’s spokeswoman, who, according to the police, had access to Sharma’s personal laptop, phone and office desktop. Another company employee, Devendra Kumar, and Dhawan’s husband Rupak Jain, who is a property dealer, have been arrested for being involved in the conspiracy. The fourth accused, Rohit, believed to be in Kolkata is out of police net.

How was the conspiracy planned?

The trio stole the data and allegedly started blackmailing the founder by threatening to leak the data if they are not paid Rs 20 crore. During the probe, it came to light that Dhawan had access to all documents and data of the company.

According to news agency PTI, Gautam Budh Nagar SSP, Ajay Pal Sharma, said around 10 months ago, Dhawan had conveyed to Sharma that she wanted to buy a property for herself in the National Capital Region and when she did not see her communication getting materialised she perhaps opted for this route to make quick money.

According to the police, since Dhawan’s husband, Jain was jobless at the time and had suffered loss in real estate, a plan was made that she would steal data and give it to Devendra Kumar, who works in the administration department of the company, and he would further pass it on to his friend Rohit in Kolkata.

The first extortion call was made to the Paytm founder’s brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma in September with a demand Rs 30 crore which eventually came down to Rs 20 crore after multiple rounds of negotiations, the police said.

“When they first made the call on September 20, they demanded Rs 30 crore but later came down to Rs 20 crore. It was much later with a couple of rounds of negotiations that the accused settled for Rs 10 crore,” PTI quoted SSP as saying.

According to police officials, the accused had even got Rs 2.67 lakh as initial instalments by Sharma, who then approached police and got an FIR registered on Sunday which resulted in the arrests of the trio.

The trio have been remanded 14-day judicial custody and police on Tuesday carried out searches at the residences of the arrested persons and reportedly recovered a pen drive containing crucial information and call records along with a hard disk which has some personal and confidential data of the PayTm. As per preliminary reports, accused have been charged with theft, cheating, extortion, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy.

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