Delhi: Damini McNaught may sound an unusual name but it was good enough to lure a sacked IAF official into an espionage racket.
Ranjith KK, who was a leading aircraft man with the Indian Air Force posted at Bhatinda, was deceived by a cyber entity by the name Damini McNaught, who pretended to be the executive of a UK-based media firm.
The entity claimed that she required Air Force-related information for an article in their news magazine from Ranjith in exchange for pecuniary benefits, as per an official.
The dismissed Air Force official allegedly shared secret information with intelligence operatives suspected to be backed by Pakistan's ISI after being "honeytrapped".
It was in September when Ranjith came in touch with the woman on Facebook while he was admitted to a military hospital for treatment.
"As per the investigation, the lady first made contact with him on Facebook and he reciprocated since he was in hospital and had a lot of free time," the sources said, as per PTI.
Ranjith was dismissed recently and later arrested after a combined operation by Delhi Police's Crime Branch, Military Intelligence and Air Force Liaisoning Unit (LU), Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Ravindra Yadav said today.
Ranjith, a native of Malappuram district in Kerala, had joined the Indian Air Force in 2010.
He has been booked under provisions of the Official Secrets Act, said police.
"With his arrest, the police have come across a honeytrapping module, backed by intelligence agents from across the border, which creates fictitious accounts (cyber entities) in popular social networking sites, pretending to be women, befriend defence personnel and officials from security forces and allegedly lure them into espionage," a senior police official said, as per PTI.
Ranjith allegedly shared Air Force-related information, mostly pertaining to a recent exercise, movements of aircraft and deployment of various units, in exchange for money transferred to his bank account, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime) Alok Kumar said.
Ranjith had also received a few Voice Over Internet Protocol-based calls on his mobile number during which a female with British accent introduced herself as Damini McNaught and even interviewed him once.
She later assigned him the task of getting more information, Kumar said.
Ranjith was arrested on Monday and brought to Delhi on transit remand and produced before a court here today.
Ranjith allegedly shared secret information also through e-mails and internet-based text messaging services.
The documents he had shared now have to be analysed to evaluate the actual damage and potential threat to national security, said an official privy to the investigation.
Police are trying to crack open the honeytrapping module and ascertain the identities of more security personnel associated with it, the official added.
Ranjith was arrested by the IAF following sustained surveillance and court martial proceeding was initiated against him.
Following this, Ranjith was dismissed from service at 5:30 PM last evening and handed over to the police.
(With PTI inputs)