A number of Awami League nomination-seekers have fallen victim to a scam in which fraudsters have posed as high-ranking party officials and demanded money in exchange for securing nominations.
In one case, 63-year-old Dipok Kumar Roy, the general secretary of the Awami League’s Thakurgaon district unit, was contacted by a man named Mahmudul Hasan who claimed to be the deputy director of the National Security Intelligence (NSI). Hasan promised to secure Roy’s nomination for the Thakurgaon-1 seat in the upcoming national elections in exchange for 50 million taka (about $520,000).
In another case, a group of fraudsters used the name of Abul Hasnat, the personal assistant to Awami League presidium member Abdul Rahman, to target several nomination-seekers, including several women candidates for reserved seats. Rahman has filed a complaint with the Paltan police station in Dhaka.
Police say that the fraudsters have targeted relatively weak nomination-seekers in a number of constituencies. They pose as high-ranking party officials, government officials, or members of the election nomination board. They use a variety of tactics to gain the trust of their victims, including providing false information, making promises of political support, and even threatening to sabotage their campaigns if they do not cooperate.
Among the victims of the scam are several sitting Awami League MPs, district unit general secretaries, and other party leaders. Some victims realized they had been scammed before the nominations were announced, while others only discovered it after they were not nominated.
Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) Additional Commissioner of Police (Special Crime) Md. Aslam Khan said that police have arrested several fraudsters in connection with the case. He said that many victims have not come forward to file complaints due to fear of social stigma.
Dipok Kumar Roy, the victim of the NSI scam, said that he has not yet received the money he was promised. He said that he is hopeful that the police will recover the money and bring the perpetrators to justice.
Abul Hasnat, the personal assistant to Abdul Rahman, said that the fraudsters were using his name to extort money from women candidates. He said that Rahman is not a member of the parliamentary nomination board, but is a member of the local government (union and municipality chairman) nomination board.
One of the victims of the scam, 310th reserved seat MP Anjum Sultana Sima, said that she was contacted by a man who promised to secure her nomination. He demanded money, but she refused to pay.
The DMP’s Special Crime Unit has arrested a man named Abu Hurayra alias Khalid Hasan in connection with the Paltan police station case. Police said that Khalid demanded 15 crore taka (about $1.5 million) from a woman in exchange for securing her nomination for a reserved seat. He initially took 15,000 taka from her.
Police are investigating the case and are trying to identify other victims and perpetrators.