INDIA. Mumbai: The Mumbai Cyber Police have arrested a gang of six people, including a woman, who duped over 10,000 people of estimated Rs 10.13 crore in the last two years, by promising them instant loans, petrol pump dealership, etc, using fake websites.
While three persons, including a woman, were nabbed from Patna (Bihar), two others were caught from Durgapur (West Bengal). Yet another person was apprehended from Jaigad in Ratnagiri (Maharashtra). Rs one lakh in cash, a laptop computer, and 5 mobiles worth Rs 70,000/- were seized from the accused. They have been booked under sections 419, 420, 465, 467,468,471 Indian Penal Code and sections 66- C, 66- D of Information Technology Act 2000, a Mumbai police press note stated.
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The racket came to light when on December 15, a person approached Cyber Police, stating that he has duped Rs.3.66 lakh on the pretext of being allotted a petrol pump of Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited (HPCL). He responded to the offer on the websites- www.lpgvitrekchayan.net, www.allindiadealershipservices.in and gave all personal details in the registration form on the websites, which were allegedly created by the accused.
Then he was asked to make a part payment of 50 percent to register and be eligible for the allotment of the petrol pump. After a few days, he received a call from a man who introduced himself by the fake name D K Verma, asking him to deposit Rs 3.66 lakh for certificates and other documentation. After he made the payment, the said Verma, stopped responding to him and on verification, he realized that he was duped. As such he complained to the police.
During the investigation, the cyber police traced the online fraud to Bihar and West Bengal and found that thousands of people had registered on the websites created by the racketeers. Four teams were dispatched to Patna, Durgapur, and Ratnagiri since one of the culprit had fled to Ratnagiri, to nab the culprits.
The police found 123 other fake websites in the possession of the accused who used to operate these websites from Patna, trapping people through the clickbait strategy and directing the users to fake websites, which had a stark resemblance to the original websites. Victims were asked to fill in the details like their names, locations, and bank details. Then they were luring them with offers to own an LPG gas agency or petrol pump dealerships, instant loans, and online shopping.
The accused had created fake websites offering people Reliance towers, gas agency/petrol pump dealership and online shopping through “Naptoal”, “Snapdeal” etc Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Rashmi Karandikar said.
“The victim was asked to make a part payment of 50 percent to register and be eligible for the allotment of the petrol pump or gas agency. The accused contacted them via e-mail, phone, or messages to get the payments and asked them to pay the remaining 50 percent to get the allotment. Each victim has duped between Rs.6 lakh and Rs.7 lakh. We suspect that the accused have cheated nearly 10,351 persons of Rs 10.13 crore”, Joint Commissioner of Police (crime) Milind Bharambe said.
Most of the arrested accused are well educated and the mastermind of the racket was stated to be a Commerce graduate based in Patna. Many more victims could turn up in the probe of other 123 fake websites, Bharambe added.