Subversion of IRCTC online Ticket Booking system helped touts book tickets

Mumbai: The multi-crore ticket touting scam busted by Central Railway’s Railway Protection Force (RPF) unit and the commercial department has unearthed another disturbing truth about the large-scale subversion of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation’s (IRCTC) online ticket booking system.

Subversion of IRCTC online Ticket Booking system helped touts book tickets

The RPF’s interrogation of scam kingpin Kulbir Singh, who made the automation software that was helping touts corner most of the seats on IRCTC’s website, has revealed that a couple of websites (names withheld for the sake of domain name privacy to protect original IRCTC website) were using the IRCTC acronym, mirroring the IRCTC’s booking process, and allowing touts to corner tickets much faster than any bonafide passenger could manage.

When tried out the sites, one of them didn’t open whereas the other was functional. The functional one actually advertises itself as the one-stop solution for people wanting to book tickets on IRCTC with a promise “to help you win the tatkal competition 100% free”.

Alok Bohra, Senior Divisional Security Commissioner, RPF, Central Railway, confirmed to media the development and said an official letter to the IRCTC had been dispatched about this. “It’s their duty to block these sites so that bonafide passengers are not put at a disadvantage by these touts,” Bohra said.

Sunil Kumar, Group General Manager (Information Technology), IRCTC, said the sites were unauthorised and that action would be taken against them.

RPF officials, meanwhile, have also written to Google for details of the various e-mail IDs held by the 12 arrested touts so that more transactions and ticketing details could be ferreted out of them.

“It’s just not enough that we arrest touts and recover tickets from them. It is necessary that the IRCTC website is strengthened against such automation software. The IT department of IRCTC should come down heavily on such websites so that thousands of passengers logging on to the IRCTC website are not cheated. Unless this case is taken to its logical conclusion, the recovery of crores of rupees will be of no value to the bonafide passenger,” said a senior railway official.

The scale of the scam can be gauged from the fact that the recovery of tickets as well as their value is more than all the tickets confiscated by the RPF unit of CR between January and September this year — 2,865 tickets worth Rs.83.65 lakh. The recovery in the speed software touting scam so far has crossed 4,000 tickets with a total value of more than Rs.2 crore.

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