Thousands of people across the country were ripped off for over a year by scammers, who ran scams based on investing tasks and working part-time and offering huge profits for simple tasks like liking Youtube videos or writing reviews on Google.
Nine people from across India have been arrested. Among those arrested are four from Hyderabad: Mohammad Munawar, Arul Das, Shameer Khan and Shah Sumair. Others in the network are Prakash Mulchandbhai Prajapati and Kumar Prajapati from Ahmedabad and Gagan Soni, Parvez alias Guddu and Naimuddin Sheikh from Mumbai.
Hyderabad Police Commissioner CV Anand said one of the victims, Shiva Kumar from Hyderabad, told cybercrime detectives in April that he was cheated out of Rs 28 lakhs. When investigators followed the money trail, they zeroed in on 48 shell company bank accounts and the money was fixed at Rs 584 crore, stolen from gullible investors.
“One of the accounts was registered in the name of Radhika Marketing Company, based in Hyderabad. A cell phone number was registered on the account in Munawar’s name,” police said.
Police found that Munawar and his aides Arul Das, Shah Sumair and Shamir Khan went to Lucknow in the direction of Manish, Vikas and Rajesh, all residents of the UP capital, to open bank accounts for shell companies operated in their names. “They were offered Rs 2 lakh to open a bank account of a shell company. They opened 61 accounts from 33 shell companies and provided documents and login information to Manish. More accounts with Rs 128 crore were later traced,” Anand said. While analyzing the transactions, police came across cross-border deals with some accounts operated from Dubai-based IP addresses.
“A Gulf-based group with links to the Chinese network was operating the Indian accounts and transferring money to crypto wallets,” Anand said. The key Ahmedabad-based defendants, Prakash and Kumar Prajapati, had crypto wallets from which money was transferred abroad.
The Home Ministry’s CyberCrime Coordination Center and the Hyderabad police found that a portion of the money was deposited into a crypto account allegedly operated by Hezbollah. “Prakash Prajapati has a direct line to his Chinese contacts. He coordinates with them by sending shared OTP and Indian bank account details to operate these accounts from Dubai or China through remote access apps,” the police commissioner said.