How Criminals ‘Rent’ Bank Accounts for Illegal Transactions

In the documents submitted to a bank, Bappy Hossain (26) mentions that he is a worker. But an anomaly emerged after analyzing the details of his national identity (NID).

It was found that he had about 45 accounts with different financial institutions, most of them under the umbrella of banking agents.

Similarly, Md Raju (31) mentioned that he is a private service holder, and his NID details showed a similar scene: around 40 accounts.

Like these two, at least seven other people held about 227 accounts with different banks in total. And they listed their occupations as egg seller, van driver or domestic helper.

The question is, why do these seemingly normal people have so many accounts?

In an investigation, the detective branch of the police (DB) discovered that transnational organized criminals were taking these accounts on ‘rental’ for illegal transactions to avoid the eyes of law enforcement.

For each transaction, criminals pay 1000-1500 Tk and 4000-5000 Tk for opening an account.

Khalilur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner (Gulshan Division) of DB, said some of the accounts even made transactions worth Tk 30 lakh.

Investigative sources said a Bangladeshi man, identified as Biplob Lashkar, is keeping full details of the deal.

Investigation also revealed that his current address is at Mohammadpur in Dhaka. But after visiting the address, this correspondent did not find anyone who lives there.

Sources said Biplob has been involved in fraudulent activities for a long time.

At one point, he joined criminal gangs run by a group of Nigerians, who embezzled people’s money by deceiving them. Gang members would become friends with strangers on social media. Later, they will say that they are sending an expensive gift as a sign of friendship.

Finally, a member of the local union identifying himself as a customs officer would call the target, saying that a gift was from overseas but customs duty is required to release the item. Then they would provide a “leased” bank account number.

Detectives learned all this after a victim filed a complaint with Paltan police station last week. The victim had paid about Tk 55,000 as customs fees and then realized that he had been cheated.

AC Khalilur said campaigns are underway to find Biplob and those renting the accounts.

Biplop is accused in more than a dozen cases. He has been arrested several times, but manages to get out on bail, the official said.

Like Biplob, a Harun-or-Rashid also maintains such accounts for the Syndicate.

When contacted, officials working at Bangladesh’s Financial Intelligence Unit said there are no written or circular rules stipulating the number of accounts an individual can open.

However, if a criminal offense or suspicious transaction is found, the bank can notify law enforcement, they said.

Mashiur Rahman, Deputy Commissioner (Gulshan Division) of the DB, said a section of Nigerians had teamed up with Bangladeshis to form criminal groups. Gangs mainly use people from lower income groups to open bank accounts in their name and use them for criminal activities.

“We are holding meetings with the banking authorities to inform them of these frauds and are taking action in this regard,” he told the Daily Star yesterday.

Shawanda H. Saldana