In a relentless crackdown on cybercrime, the Special Task Force of Uttarakhand has successfully exposed yet another international cyber scam, leading to the arrest of a major hawala operator in Kerala.
The scam, involving a staggering sum of at least 11 crores, revolves around a deceitful investment website that lured unsuspecting victims into a web of financial deception.
The Cybercriminals’ Elaborate Scheme
The latest scheme targeted individuals through fake websites masquerading as tourism companies, reaching out via email, telephone, and social media platforms. Posing as executives from reputable firms, these fraudsters enticed their targets to invest in international currency, promising substantial returns while swindling them of lakhs of rupees.
The investigation began when a complaint was filed with the Cybercrime Police Station in Uttarakhand. An unknown individual, claiming to be “Lisa” and using the WhatsApp number +447878602954, contacted the victim, Sue.
Through the fake website https://increatewealth2.com, they lured Sue into a web of deceit, convincing her to invest in mutual funds in exchange for promised profits.
Consequently, a case was registered under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and Section 66 D of the IT Act.
Arrest and Ongoing Investigation
Earlier in this case, a 40-year-old resident of Bangalore was arrested on February 6, 2023, and sent to jail. As the search for other culprits continued, Additional Sub-Inspector Mukesh Chand assumed control of the investigation.
A dedicated team was formed to track down the remaining suspects. Through diligent efforts, the team managed to trace the mobile numbers used in the scam and the funds transferred to the accused’s accounts. Shockingly, the culprits were traced to Kerala, a distant state from Uttarakhand, prompting the deployment of the investigative team to this non-native territory.
With unwavering determination, the police collected crucial evidence that eventually led to the arrest of the main suspect, Vaishyak Annikrishnan, a 34-year-old resident of Olesri House Pallath Road, Kodungallu Pulut Thrissur, Kerala. During the arrest, authorities recovered various identification documents, including debit cards, a driver’s license, a PAN card, a voter ID card, a UAE ID card, an Aadhaar card, and a mobile with a SIM card.
The Method of Deceit
The accused individuals, operating from Malaysia, initially reached out to the victim, Sue, via WhatsApp, encouraging her to invest in mutual funds through the fraudulent website https://increatewealth2.com.
Sue made an initial investment of Rs. 10,000 via Paytm, which marked the beginning of her financial entanglement. The perpetrators utilized Indian banks to persuade Sue into making progressively larger investments, ultimately defrauding her of approximately one crore rupees. The funds obtained through this fraudulent activity were subsequently channeled into various bank accounts. To carry out their illicit activities, the accused used counterfeit SIM ID cards.
Previously Arrested and Presently Detained
Prior to Vaishyak Annikrishnan’s arrest, another member of the cybercrime gang, Mahmeed Sharif, aged 40, residing at 1-115 Market Road Bada Udipi, Karnataka, was apprehended and incarcerated on February 6, 2023.
A Public Appeal
In light of these recent developments, the Senior Superintendent of Police of the Special Task Force Uttarakhand has issued a heartfelt plea to the public. He implores individuals not to succumb to the allure of seemingly lucrative opportunities, fake websites, or unknown investment prospects that promise to double their wealth overnight. Before engaging in any online transactions or investments, he advises thorough verification with local banks and relevant companies.
As cybercriminals continue to evolve their techniques, it is crucial for the public to remain vigilant and exercise caution when navigating the digital landscape. The battle against cybercrime is ongoing, and law enforcement agencies are committed to bringing these criminals to justice.
Stay safe, stay informed, and protect your hard-earned money from the clutches of cybercriminals.
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