As part of operation Chakra-II, the Central Bureau of Investigation continued its crackdown on cyber-enabled financial crimes, achieving comprehensive success in two more cases.
In the first case, in 2022, based upon various inputs, including the one given by the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under MHA, the CBI registered case against sophisticated, organised cyber crime being perpetuated on Indian citizens, by foreign scamsters in the name of investment, loan and job opportunities.
After carrying out a detailed analysis of the complex web of money trail, CBI recently conducted raids at the locations of the suspects.
Promises of lucrative part-time jobs through ponzi schemes
The fraudsters, allegedly, exploited various social media platforms and their advertisement portals, encrypted chat applications, SMS to entice victims with promises of lucrative part-time jobs through ponzi schemes & multi-level marketing initiatives. To evade detection, these criminals utilised a multi-layered approach involving UPI accounts, crypto currencies, and international money transfers.
Allegedly, the fraudsters were using advertisement tools of a well-known search engine, as well as rented headers to send bulk SMS, thereby creating a web of deception. Victims were lured to deposit funds through UPI accounts, in the hope of high returns. The ill-gotten money was laundered through a complex network of UPI accounts, ultimately converging into crypto currency or gold purchases using falsified credentials.
CBI identified 137 shell companies engaged in fraudulent activities. A significant number of these entities were registered with the Registrar of Companies in Bangalore. Rigorous field investigations led to the identification of these companies' directors, most of whom were based in Bangalore. Some of these directors were also associated with a Bangalore-based payout merchant. This merchant, central to the fraudulent operation, controlled around 16 distinct bank accounts, where a huge sum of ₹357 crore (approx) was funneled. The funds were then dispersed across various accounts in a deliberate attempt to obscure the trail. Searches conducted in Bangalore, Cochin & Gurgaon yielded substantial evidence, shedding light on the alleged activities of the shell companies' directors.
The association of the accused with a foreign national, has also been detected. Roles of two chartered accountants from Bangalore were found in altering directorships and contact information associated with these fraudulent entities. Searches at their premises led to the recovery of certain documents, email communications, & WhatsApp chats, providing critical insights into their alleged role in facilitating the said foreign national's involvement in these operations.
Cyber-enabled financial crimes
The second case was registered against unknown individuals on the allegations of cyber enabled financial crimes targeting Singapore citizens. The inputs in the matter were received from Singapore police force via INTERPOL channels relating to over 300 cyber-enabled frauds against Singapore citizens involving more than 100 Indian Bank accounts, spread across ten (10) States/UTs. It was further alleged that these criminals employed a variety of cyber techniques, including social engineering methods such as phishing, vishing, smishing, and fraudulent tech support, targeting over 400 Singapore Citizens.
After registering the said case, CBI unveiled & cracked down on a vast cyber fraud network targeting Singapore nationals. It was found that the accused utilized a variety of cyber techniques, including social engineering methods such as phishing, vishing, smishing, & fraudulent tech support. Exploiting these techniques, the accused made victim transfer funds from Singaporean accounts to various accounts in India. The defrauded funds were then distributed among other accounts or withdrawn by these cyber criminals.
150 bank accounts analyzed
In a rigorous effort, approximately 150 bank accounts were analyzed, and leads on the money trail were identified. A complex network of interconnected entities was reconstructed based on financial communications.
During searches at the premises of the accused in 35 locations, including Patna, Kolkata, Lucknow, Varanasi, Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Bhopal, Chennai, Kochi & Madurai, incriminating documents related to identity proofs, fraudulent banking transactions & other crucial evidence were recovered. The operation uncovered multiple gangs involved in targeting Singaporean nationals, and their identities were ascertained during the course of the investigation. Investigation in these cases is continuing.