NEW DELHI: The cybercrime police in Noida has uncovered a sophisticated fraud scheme that siphoned off a staggering Rs 2.54 crore from a retired Director General (DG) of the Central Public Works Department (CPWD).
The retired official, Anil Kumar Sharma, was duped by a gang of cyber fraudsters operating from Dubai, who promised huge profits through Forex trading. A breakthrough in the case has led to the arrest of one accused in Delhi, while another managed to evade capture. Police officials have confirmed that a thorough investigation is ongoing.
A Promising Start and a Devastating Turn
The fraud saga began in June 2022 when Anil Kumar Sharma, a former Indian Engineering Service member and the ex-Director General of CPWD, received a call from someone claiming to be Swapnil from London. Swapnil introduced Sharma to a UK-based trading website, assuring him of substantial returns on his investments. To bolster his pitch, Swapnil directed Sharma to online forums where glowing testimonials about the website’s profitability abounded.
Fueled by optimism, Sharma initially invested a modest $250 on the platform and reaped impressive returns. Encouraged by his success, he gradually escalated his investments, eventually committing a staggering Rs 2.54 crore to the scheme.
However, Sharma’s fortunes took a drastic turn when he found himself unable to withdraw any funds from the website. It was only then that he realized he had fallen victim to a cyber fraud.
Unraveling the Cyber Fraud Scheme
The modus operandi of these cyber fraudsters is as cunning as it is elaborate. They create counterfeit websites that mimic renowned financial trading platforms. After convincing their victims to open legitimate demat accounts on the real platform, the fraudsters retain access to the user’s ID and password during the purported KYC process.
To further deceive their targets, the fraudsters lead them to create accounts on phishing websites that mirror the original platform. Transactions on these dummy accounts are manipulated to reflect gains, fostering trust. Initial profits are even returned to the victims to solidify their confidence. However, when victims attempt to withdraw their substantial earnings, the scammers impose additional charges under various pretexts, such as GST and settlement fees.
Three Arrests, One Escape
In a breakthrough for the cybercrime police station, three arrests have been made in connection with the case. Vijay Sharma and Tarun Kashyap, both residents of Delhi, along with Hemant Singharia from Punjabi Bagh, are now in custody.
The investigation has revealed that Rs 21 lakh of the defrauded amount was deposited into a current account under Hemant Singharia’s name. Hemant opened this account on Vijay Sharma’s behalf, disguising the transaction as a rental agreement with a monthly fee of Rs 20,000. Vijay Sharma, acting as an intermediary, helped the gang open multiple current accounts under the guise of different individuals, including a fictitious person named Annie.
Tarun Kashyap, the third accused, allegedly played a pivotal role in facilitating the scam by fraudulently securing MSME and GST registrations. He fabricated businesses by renting shop space in Rohini Plaza and displaying signs with the names of fictitious firms. With the help of bank employees who photographed these fabricated business setups, current accounts were fraudulently opened under the firms’ names. Authorities are also examining the involvement of bank employees in this illicit operation.
The Attraction of Current Accounts for Cyber Fraudsters
Current accounts have become a preferred tool for cyber fraudsters due to their capability for large transactions without raising immediate suspicions. Authorities are keen to crack down on these practices, as income tax and other regulatory agencies have grown increasingly concerned about these fraudulent operations.
As the investigation unfolds, the cybercrime police station remains committed to bringing all involved parties to justice and dismantling this intricate web of cyber fraud. Meanwhile, individuals are advised to exercise caution and skepticism when approached with investment opportunities that seem too good to be true, especially in the digital realm.
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