NOIDA: Cyber Crime police of Uttar Pradesh have busted an over Rs 3,000 crore part-time job scam network. The one-of-its-kind investigation includes examining several cryptocurrency accounts and exchanges, and shell companies operating in foreign countries.
According to the police, the scam starts with a simple SMS or WhatsApp message. These messages started coming during the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic when people started looking for a job while working from home. The scammers specially targeted those who lost their jobs or were housemakers.
Some of the fake messages read – Amazon/Flipkart urgently recruiting for part-time jobs, you can earn 3000-8000 Rs every day, Top-up Rs 500 to earn Rs 200 commissions and withdraw Rs 700, Deposit Rs 50,000 to earn 30,000 commissions and withdraw 80,000.
During the investigation, UP police found scammers were sending lakhs of messages across India in a day, and many were falling into their trap. The initial investigation shows that the scam ran over Rs 3,000 cr. Interestingly cybercriminals were converting all the money into cryptocurrency and had opened wallets in all the major crpyto exchanges. This money was further sent to shell companies in foreign countries.
UP cyber police started the investigation after a Bareilly-based woman lost Rs 2.10 lakh after falling for high commission against an investment scam. “During our investigation we found the stolen money was sent to three UPI accounts. While digital tracing these UPIs were found. This was just a tip of an iceberg as these were further linked with various crypto wallets. Detailed investigation showed 95 wallets in HUOBI, 64 wallets in Binance, 21 wallets of OKEX, two wallets each of Poloniex, Smart Cont, OK Coin and BitPie, one wallet attached to Bitfinex and FTX exchange was found. The total amount circulating in these exchanges is worth Rs 3,000 Cr,” said Prof Triveni Singh, SP, Cyber Crime, UP Police.
Singh explained that around Rs 1,413 Cr was transferred in 56 wallets of Binance. Out of these, only six wallets were based in India rest were found in China, Philippines and Malaysia. Now using these wallets, money were sent to several fake companies and trust located in different foreign countries. This was done to hide money transfers and avoid getting caught by the law enforcement agencies. Interestingly these scammers transferred crypto assets in smaller wallets to trick investigators.
During the tracking, police found the link of a man identified as Jaidev Dey, who created a fake NGO Assam Rural Development Society, and got Rs 200 Cr. Police arrested Manjrul Islam of Dolphin Consultant Service Private Limited of Gurugram, who received Rs 14 cr from this scam. He during the questioning said that he was working on the direction of a Chinese national, and the money was transferred in different countries.
Police is trying to examine how many people were cheated by the gang and who were the people involved in the chain of a scam, including the ultimate beneficiary.
The role of bulk SMS provider/SMS aggregator and telecom operator has also come under the scanner. Triveni Singh said each message is approved before sending it in mass. Then how was a fake job link shared at such a large number? Approval was taken for different messages, but fraudulent messages were shared with the public. These service providers were getting paid by clients in abroad but were sharing messages in India. In this case Mobishastra was taking payment from Chinese and Dubai clients but was sending messages to Indians. Police is examining if this is a violation of the telecom rule. Various other technical loopholes have come to light during the police investigation.
Cops also said that Payment aggregator RazorPay allotted several virtual numbers to an account holder. Police are now questioning RBI and banking authority that if FinTech can allot hundreds of virtual accounts to the account holders or is it violation of rule. These are some loopholes that scammers are exploiting to cheat innocent Indians.
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