Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Bengaluru cops bust Rs 854 cr cyber investment fraud, 6 arrested

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The Bengaluru Police have busted a Rs 854 crore cyber fraud scam and arrested six people who allegedly cheated thousands of victims across India on the pretext of an investment scheme, officials said on Saturday.+

The accused — Manoj, Panindra, Chakradhar, Shrinivas, Somashekar and Vashanth — are all residents of Bengaluru, they said.

The three other accused, alleged to be the masterminds behind the fraud have been identified, police said, adding efforts are being made to apprehend them.

Out of the total cheated amount, Rs five crore had been frozen, police said, adding that in Bengaluru alone, the victims were cheated of Rs 49 lakh.

The accused gang lured the victims through Whatsapp and Telegram. Initially, they were asked to invest smaller amounts ranging from Rs 1,000 to 10,000 on the pretext that they would earn Rs 1,000 to 5,000 per day as a profit, a senior police officer said.

Thousands of victims invested money ranging from Rs one lakh to 10 lakh or more, he said.

Addressing a press conference here, Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda said the Central Crime Branch (CCB) has been successful in detecting the “very interesting” cyber crime fraud case in which the criminals have cheated certain individuals by luring them at high rates of interest for the money they deposited.

Explaining the modus operandi, he said the accused contacted victims through WhatsApp, Telegram and other social media platforms. After gaining their trust on the pretext of providing them with higher returns on their investments, the accused started asking victims to deposit the amount. However, they neither returned the money or the interest that they had promised.

The investigation has revealed that 5,013 similar cases of cyber investment fraud have been registered across the country. Out of which, in Bangalore city alone, 17 such cases have been registered at different police stations here, he said.

“The cheated amount of Rs 854 crore has been transacted by the accused to 84 different bank accounts. Out of the total cheated amount, Rs five crore has been frozen,” he added.

The CCB had been working on the case for three months, police said, adding that using technical surveillance and other vital leads, they managed to track down the culprits.

The money invested by the victims was dumped into different bank accounts through online payments. However, after completing the investment process, when the victim tried to withdraw the amount, they never got any refund, the officer said.

Once the amount was collected, the accused diverted the consolidated money to mule accounts (related to money laundering), he said.

The total amount of Rs 854 crore was dumped into various online payment modes through crypto (Binance), payment gateway and gaming apps among others, he said.

According to the police, the 84 bank accounts in which the cheated amount was transferred were opened in different states. Some of these accounts were opened using fake addresses and identities. They also used genuine bank accounts of some people and paid them commission for the same.

All the six accused arrested played different roles. Some of them were tasked to identify and approach their targets through WhatsApp and Telegram, while the job of others was to arrange bank accounts for depositing and transferring the cheated amount, police said.

Several equipment like laptops, mobile phones, printers, and swiping machines were recovered from the accused gang, they said.

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