11 held for duping 5L investors of ₹150 crore via mobile apps

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Delhi Police Cyber Cell arrested 11 men, including two chartered accountants, for allegedly cheating more than 5 lakh people of over ₹150 crore in two months on the pretext of lucrative returns via apps, the police said on Wednesday.

A total of ₹11 crore of the cheated money has been blocked in various bank accounts and payment gateways, the police said.

The police took notice of various posts on social media by people across the country about two mobile applications — Power Bank and EZPlan. These apps offered lucrative returns on investment, a senior police officer said.

The Power Bank App projected itself as a Bengaluru-based start-up, but its server was found based in China.

The apps, in order to entice large number of people to invest more and more money, initially gave a small payout amounting to 5% to 10% of the invested money, the police said.

People, believing the scheme to be genuine, started investing more money as well as circulating and sharing the app among their friends and relatives.

Shell companies

“The police invested a token amount in the app and the money trail was followed. It was found that the accused persons had created a web of around 25 shell companies for routing the fraud money. These companies were located in different parts of the country and money was being moved from one account to the other to hide the trail,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber Cell) Anyesh Roy said.

The police analysed the mobile numbers connected with the bank accounts and found that one of accused Sheikh Robin was in Uluberia, West Bengal.

On June 2, raids were conducted at multiple locations. Robin was arrested. At the same time, nine others were arrested from Delhi-NCR, including two CAs — Avik Kedia, resident of Gurugram, and Ronak Bansal, resident of Katwaria Sarai, the DCP said.

The CAs created over 110 shell companies and sold these companies to Chinese nationals for ₹2-₹3 lakh each, the police said.

Robin, who was contacted by the Chinese national through Telegram, initially opened a bank account for these fraudsters, but later started acting as an operative, whose primary task was to manage the large number of fund transfers, Mr. Roy said, adding that at the time of the arrest, he was operating around 29 bank accounts.

The main Chinese handlers behind this massive scam, used to randomly contact people over various apps such as WhatsApp and Telegram and hired those interested as partners for procuring bogus bank accounts, creating shell companies, circulating and promoting the apps, transferring money, etc., the police said.

Names of several Chinese nationals have been revealed so far. Investigation about their whereabouts, specific roles and their large fraud network is under way, the police said.


This article was originally published on The Hindu