Security & Fraud

Paytm Founder Targeted In Blackmail Scheme

Three people have been remanded in India over an alleged plot to blackmail the founder of Paytm for $2.7 million. According to Reuters on Monday (Oct. 22), Paytm’s spokeswoman, “Sonia Dhawan, her husband Rupak Jain and another Paytm employee, Devendra Kumar, were arrested on Monday following a complaint on behalf of Vijay Shekhar Sharma, the founder of Paytm’s parent [company], One97 Communications.”

The three allegedly threatened to leak stolen personal data if Sharma did not pay them. Paytm did not reveal how the stolen material could have been used to blackmail its founder, but added that only his personal data was taken.

“Paytm would like to reiterate that all our consumer data is protected with the highest and most impenetrable levels of security,” it said in a statement.

A police spokesman said a court in the northern state of Uttar Pradesh remanded the three accused to a week’s custody, and that they “will be in jail until then.”

According to a complaint seen by Reuters, Sharma’s brother and son received two WhatsApp calls last month “from one of the accused individuals, demanding 200 million rupees ($2.7 million)” or they would make the data public. The money was transferred this month to two bank accounts provided by the caller, but the extortion demands did not end, which led to the family going to the police.

Earlier this month, it was reported that Paytm, the largest payments firm in India, makes up the largest contribution to UPI Payment. Alibaba and Paytm said the latter had registered as many as 137 million transactions across UPI, which gives the firm a 33 percent market share.

In a statement, Deepak Abbot, who serves as senior vice president at Paytm, said that “it is encouraging to see the widespread adoption of Paytm BHIM UPI, as it is fast becoming a preferred payment method for millions of users, making us the leader in UPI payments.”

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