Vijay Shekhar Sharma, Paytm founder and CEO made headlines on Monday evening as news about his extortion by some blackmailers, including his secretary. Sharma was blackmailed by some people who were threatening to leak his personal data and compromise the reputation of his company, One97 Communications. The blackmailers were trying to extort Rs 20 crore from the Paytm founder before they were caught.
Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s long-time secretary was at her desk in the company’s office in Noida near Delhi when a police team walked in and arrested her on Monday afternoon. Sonia Dhawan, say the police, stole data and personal information from her boss to use it to blackmail him for Rs. 20 crore. She planned the crime with a colleague, Devender Kumar, and husband Rupak Jain, a property dealer.
Sonia Dhawan’s Twitter bio reveals she had been promoted to head of communication at the e-wallet giant. “Hard work is glory, everything else is theory,” she wrote.
According to the police, she had worked with Vijay Shekhar Sharma for 10 years, a period which covers the launch and phenomenal rise of Paytm. Her colleague Devender Kumar joined when the company started, seven years ago.
It is not known yet what data was stolen, but when she was Mr Sharma’s secretary, Sonia Dhawan had access to his laptop, mobile phone and office computer. She allegedly passed on data to a fourth man, Rohit Chomal, who made the extortion call to Mr Sharma’s brother Ajay Shekhar Sharma, who is a senior vice president in the company. “They threatened to cause the firm losses and dent its public image,” said the police.
Chomal, a resident of Kolkata, is missing. He allegedly made the first call on September 20 and demanded Rs. 10 crore for stolen data.
“The owner of Paytm had made a complaint with the police that their employees, a woman and her aides, had stolen some data from the company and were blackmailing him. They were demanding Rs. 20 crore for not leaking it,” senior police officer Ajay Pal Sharma said.
The three have been charged with theft, extortion, cheating, criminal breach of trust and conspiracy. They have also been charged under the Information Technology Act, the police said.
“The employee along with two other accomplices attempted to extort money from Vijay Shekhar Sharma on the pretext of leaking his personal data. We are standing by our colleagues till the police enquiry reaches its meaningful conclusion,” the company said.