Three Paytm employees, including CEO Vijay Shekhar Sharma’s secretary, were arrested on Monday, the 22nd, for stealing personal data from the latter’s laptop and blackmailing him to cough up a sum of Rs 20 crore.
According to police reports, Sharma’s secretary, who had worked with him for close to a decade collaborated with another Paytm employee who joined seven years ago. His secretary reportedly had access to his personal laptop, mobile phone and office computer.
Sources, as mentioned by Business Standard, revealed that the blackmailers threatened to ruin Sharma’s public image by revealing the data stored in his laptop. However, it is still unclear if the data contained Sharma’s personal information or if it also contained company-related sensitive information.
According to reports by HT, Ajay Shekhar Sharma, the founder’s brother and currently senior VP at Paytm, disclosed that a sum of Rs 2 lakh was initially transferred to the perpetrators on 15 October, following which they were instructed to line up another Rs 10 crore.
Big bucks at stake
Paytm, currently catering to around 350 million users, saw a spate of big investments earlier this year. In addition to Alibaba and SoftBank, Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway was reported to make a USD 350 million (roughly Rs 2,500 crore) investment in India’s e-payment wonder boy.
With the event of the potential data leak, the scandal could have long-lasting repercussions on potential deals with global behemoths.
Not Sharma’s first brush with cons
Currently valued at USD 2.1 billion, Vijay Shekhar Sharma witnessed phenomenal growth in net worth following the demonetisation drive in November 2016. Paytm clocked 16 million transactions from a user base of over 350 million users.
The blackmailing incident however is not Sharma’s first encounter with fraudsters.
In September last year, Sharma alleged that the head of the Vuzelaa Group, Sahil Arora, impersonated him and sent emails. It was revealed that the impersonator also tried to raise funds using Paytm’s name.