LAHORE - The interior ministry yesterday directed the Federal Investigation Agency to nail the crooks of a sham lottery scheme, source said.

The ministry took action after a man, Mumtaz Ali Khan, wrote a letter for help in retrieving Rs2.3 million looted from his sister some six months ago. More than 50 cases of defrauding people through text messages, calls and emails have been reported so far.

Following the directives, the sources said that FIA Punjab Director Dr Usman Anwar ordered his team to swoop on the culprits.

Earlier, an inquiry officer, Muhammad Ali Syed, admitted his failure to nail the fraudsters telling the lawyer of Mumtaz Ali that the FIA “lacks resources” – his remark resulted in doubts about his profession duties.

Mumtaz Ali said that orders of registration of a case were issued on February 26 by the FIA DG office but the IO delayed the same for a month – the case was registered on March 23. Fraudsters were looting millions from innocent people in the name of lottery and prizes by sending text messages, emails and making telephone calls. Interestingly all transactions were being made through cellular companies’ money transfer schemes and Western union. He said that 40 CNICs were used 70 times to draw illegal money but the FIA could not arrest even a single accused.

However, an FIA officer said they had conducted two raids earlier in Sargohda and Silanwali areas and arrested some people with the help of local police and in near future they were going to raid again. Mostly culprits send messages to people or contact them through telephone and introduce themselves as representative of cellular companies.

They inform the victims that they have won cash prize/car etc in a lucky draw, after deceiving innocent people and demand some money for the delivery of prize.

They trap people tactfully and receive money from them via western union/U paisa and other cellular companies cash transfer system.

An FIA officer said that there were more than 50 inquiries wherein millions of rupees were reported to have been minted by the fraudsters. According to FIA, the ‘Oadh’ (nomads) across the country is involved in this fraud.

An FIA officer recommended that State Bank of Pakistan should ban these money transfer systems or introduce authentic system for money transfer.