BENFALURU: A startling revelation has come to light as the arrest of a 33-year-old Bengaluru-based businessman has unraveled a massive cyber fraud network, siphoning off a staggering sum of over Rs 250 crore. Manoj, a resident of Swagath Layout, Vidyaranyapura, Bengaluru, was apprehended by the Ernakulam Rural cyber police in connection with an intricate scheme that preyed on unsuspecting individuals seeking part-time jobs online.
The modus operandi was cunningly simple yet effective – individuals were enticed with online part-time jobs, primarily offered through the messaging app Telegram. Initially, victims were tasked with simple activities like ‘liking’ YouTube videos, a facade that won their trust with consistent and timely payouts for their efforts.
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Ernakulam Rural police chief Vaibhav Saxena, at the helm of the investigation, delved into the case after two individuals from North Paravur reported losses of Rs 7 lakh and Rs 11 lakh, respectively. These victims, initially engaged in the innocuous task of ‘liking’ videos, were gradually drawn into the web of deceit. They were persuaded to make small investments, promised significant returns – a Rs 1,000 investment purportedly yielding Rs 1,250.
However, the trap tightened as withdrawals ceased when investments crossed the Rs 30,000 mark. Despite assurances of substantial repayments, victims found themselves caught in a quagmire, prompting them to seek legal intervention when the payouts abruptly ceased.
The Culprit Revealed
Following the money trail, investigators uncovered a labyrinth of nearly 40 current accounts scattered across various states, each a piece in this elaborate puzzle. Manoj emerged as a crucial link, identified as an MBA graduate and a businessman dealing in packaging supplies for a food delivery app. His foray into cyber fraud, which commenced earlier this year, showcased meticulous attempts to evade detection, including abandoning the use of smartphones.
The investigation exposed Manoj’s association with individuals identified as Kevin and Jaison, purportedly based in Dubai. They were revealed to be fictitious personas, orchestrating the movement of funds from victims to the network’s current accounts, eventually funneling it abroad.
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The Global Network
What initially appeared as a local scam took an international turn as investigations unveiled the involvement of Chinese nationals behind the facade of Dubai-based operatives. Despite the use of Dubai phone numbers, authorities are convinced that the masterminds behind this colossal operation are situated in China. The funds, routed through Manoj’s managed accounts, were converted into cryptocurrency before being transmitted to the culprits in China.
The Scale of Deceit
An astonishing revelation emerged from preliminary analyses – approximately Rs 250 crore traversed through the accounts administered by Manoj, with an estimated personal gain of Rs 2-3 crore. Furthermore, the police have identified 43 cases of online job fraud reported this year alone, suspecting the involvement of the same nefarious network.
As the investigation continues, authorities are leaving no stone unturned to apprehend the kingpins orchestrating this sophisticated web of deceit, aiming to bring them to justice and curb the detrimental impact of such fraudulent schemes on unsuspecting individuals.
The saga serves as a cautionary tale, underscoring the necessity for vigilance and prudence while navigating the digital realm, where lucrative offers may often conceal malicious intentions.
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