In a bust of epic proportions, the Delhi Police busted a Chinese group that robbed 150 cr from 500k Indians by fake investment apps. A total of 11 gang members from a syndicate were arrested and as many as 10 Chinese nationals were part of this gang.
According to a Hindustan Times report, the Delhi Police this week apprehended a group of Chinese individuals that ran a nationwide scam which swindled over 5,00,000 Indians of Rs. 150 crores in the span of mere 2 months.
The Delhi Police IT Cell shared that these scammers offered people profitable investment returns through certain fake applications like EZPlan, Power Bank etc. It should be noted that at the time of writing this piece, the Google Play store wasn’t showing any of the apps, meaning that the apps are pulled out of the Android’s app store.
Indian CA Avik Kedia formed 100 fake companies
According to Anyesh Roy, Deputy Commissioner of Delhi Police Cyber Crime Cell, a total of Rs. 12 crore has already been recovered. While Rs. 97 lakhs have been seized from one of the arrested persons called Avik Kedia. Kedia reportedly had formed more than 100 fake companies for his Chinese partner in crime. These companies were used to route the money from multiple accounts.
A few more bank accounts have been frozen by the police which had a total amount of Rs. 11 crores.
How did the Chinese fraudster operate?
A Quint report said that people were randomly contacted by communication platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram by Chinese fraudsters. These interested individuals, in the hunger for receiving profitable amount, agreed to be hired as ‘partners’. Through these partners, the syndicate created fake bank accounts, fake companies. These companies promoted their own fake apps for transferring money.
A link to certain online apps was shared to people. These apps cheated people of their hard-earned money by promising them higher return on their investment. These apps include Power Bank, Sun Factory, Lightning Power Bank, etc. The links to these apps were shared on platforms such as YouTube, WhatsApp, and bulk SMS. According to the police, once an investor invested a large sum of money, their account would be blocked by the application. Further, the scammers also created apps which would sell the data of the fraud victims.
How did Delhi police discover the scam by Chinese?
Apps like “power bank” and “EZPlan” at one point was trending on 4th on Google Play store. People also took to social media platforms to promote apps that promised multifold returns on investment. It was the popularity of the apps that made it visible for scrutiny. After the experts from Cyber Cell’s NCFL (National Cyber Forensic Lab) examined these apps, they found that the apps were used to scam people.
Anyesh Roy said-
“After the apps were analyzed CyPAD officials found that to deceive people, the Power Bank app projected itself as a product of a Bengaluru-based technology startup.”
On investigation, it was found that while the app claimed itself to be a product of a Bengaluru-based startup, its servers were based in China.
A report from Hindustan Times also claimed that the app was responsible for seeking unnecessary and dangerous permissions from the users. This included camera access, reading and writing access and reading contact details.
How did the Delhi Police catch the Chinese Syndicate?
After being satisfied with the investigation, the Cyber Crime Cell made one of its officers a fake investor on the platform who invested a small token amount. The cyber-crime cell then followed the money which led them to evidences of payment gateways, bank accounts that were made to funnel the money.
Eventually on further investigation, a network of 25 fake companies across India was identified by the Cyber Cell. According to Anyesh Roy, phone numbers were also identified that originated from China and were connected to bank accounts part of the scam.
“Further analysis of mobile numbers active in India led to the arrest of Sheikh Robin in West Bengal’s Uluberia on 2 June. The same day, nine other suspects were arrested, while a Tibetan woman, Pema Wangmo, was arrested later from Delhi’s IGI Airport,”
-Anyesh Roy said.