INDIA. Mumbai: The Mumbai North region cyber police, in an operation conducted over the last five days in coordination with the Rajasthan police, arrested four people involved in running a pan-India cybercrime racket by cheating OLX users to the tune of Rs 17.82 lakh by posing as potential buyers.
The accused, involved in over 750 cases for the last one-and-a-half year, were booked under sections 419, 420, 465, 467, 471 and 120 B of the Indian Penal Code and sections 66 (c) and 66 (D) of the Information and Technology Act 2000. The FIR (No 39/2022) was earlier registered on August 30, 2022, based on the complaint received between August 28, 2022, and August 29, 2022.
The accused have been identified as Sarvasukh Rujdar (37), Tulsiram Meena (25), Ajit Poswal (19) and Irsad Sardar (25), all natives of Bharatpur (Rajasthan). The first three were arrested from their hometown, while Sardar was arrested from Uttar Pradesh. They were remanded to police custody till January 4.
The police recovered Rs two lakh in cash, 9 mobile phones, 32 bank debit cards, one passbook each of “Yes Bank” and “AU Small Finance Bank”, and four SIM cards of different companies from the accused.
The investigations into the racket were initiated in August 2022 after a senior employee working in a private firm fell prey to the fraud. He had shifted from Surat Gujarat) to Mumbai and wished to sell off some of his furniture, for which he posted an ad on the OLX. The accused contacted him and expressed willingness to buy it.
The accused told the victim that they were sending Rs.9,000 as an advance to seal the deal, sent him a QR Code, and asked him to scan it. He was unaware that it was a reverse QR Code, designed to receive rather than send money and the amount of Rs. 9,000 was pre-loaded in it. He scanned the code, and the amount was debited from his account, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Balsing Rajput told the media.
In the next two hours, while pretending to refund his money, the accused kept sending QR codes of increasing amounts, ultimately siphoning off Rs. 17.82 lakhs from his account. The victim subsequently approached the police, and an FIR was registered.
The police came across 835 mobile numbers and 38 handsets linked to the bank accounts in which the money had gone. After three months of investigation, the police zeroed in on the Bharatpur district in Rajasthan.
There were four modules involved in the racket. The first module established initial contact with the targets as soon as they uploaded advertisements on OLX, convincing them to “sell” their furniture to them. The targets’ contact numbers would then be passed on to the second module, which would talk to them on the phone and send them the QR codes, fleecing them for every rupee.
The third module would be roaming around in localities having plenty of ATM kiosks, withdrawing money in varying amounts even as it was coming in. The fourth module would set up bank accounts using forged documents and hand over their control to the second and third modules, DCP Rajput said.
There are 10 FIRs and 13 applications received by the Mumbai police so far, which match this modus operandi used by this gang. Besides, the Telangana police have sent details of 577 cases registered with them in which this gang is suspected to have been involved.
“Nearly 270 other complaints are received in the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal from other parts of the country. All these complaints are being examined,” DCP Rajput said.
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