In a breakthrough against cybercrime in Nuh district, the Haryana Police have unearthed a pan-India criminal network linked to about 28,000 cases of cyber fraud across the country, police said.The total amount of money allegedly defrauded by these cyber fraudsters is around Rs 100 crore.
According to the police, these criminals used to cheat people across the country with fake SIM, Aadhaar cards etc. and used to deposit money in fake bank accounts to avoid arrest.They duped people from all across the country but mainly those from Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh and the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
Superintendent of Police, Nuh, Varun Singla, while addressing a press conference on Wednesday informed that on the intervening night of April 27 and 28, 102 teams of 5,000 policemen had raided 14 villages of the district simultaneously.
During this raid, around 125 suspected hackers were detained. Of these, 65 accused were identified and arrested.All of the accused were produced in the concerned courts and taken on remand for seven to 11 days.
Following the arrest, to unearth the whole nexus, Haryana Director General of Police, P.K. Agrawal, deployed a team of 40 cyber experts from across the state in connection with the questioning of these cybercriminals.
Sustained interrogation of the cybercriminals apprehended was thus carried out with the help of the cyber experts and intricate details regarding the modus operandi being adopted by the cybercriminals as well as detailed information about sources of fake SIM cards and bank accounts were obtained.
The mobile phones and SIM cards seized during the raid were also technically examined and relevant details were also sought from TSPs/ISPs, banks, NPCI, UPI Intermediaries, UIDAI, DoT, social media platforms Facebook, WhatsApp, OLX etc.
The assistance of the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre of the Ministry of Home Affairs was also requested to provide the linkages of fake bank accounts, SIMs, mobile phones etc. used by these cybercriminals with the cybercrime complaints received across the country.
During this analysis, it has been revealed that cybercriminals have so far defrauded around 28,000 innocent people to the tune of more than Rs 100 crore from all states and union territories across the country.
Around 1,346 FIRs have been registered against these cyber fraudsters across the country. The details of these cybercriminals are being sent to concerned senior police authorities of these states to fix the culpability of these cybercriminals.
The investigation also revealed that about 219 accounts of private and public sector banks and 140 UPI accounts were being used for committing cyber fraud.These bank accounts were mainly found to be activated online and that too by defrauding innocent people on the pretext of providing a job and then taking their credentials such as Aadhar Card, PAN Card, mobile number and getting an online KYC done.
Apart from this, 347 SIM cards activated from Haryana, West Bengal, Assam, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Odisha, Madhya Pradesh, Delhi, Tamil Nadu, Punjab, North-east, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka circles of telecom companies have also been unearthed which were being used by these criminals for cybercrime.
During the investigation, the source of fake SIMs and bank accounts is mainly linked to the district of Bharatpur, Rajasthan. "Sixteen cases registered in Nuh district, 250 wanted cybercriminals working as co-accused to the cybercriminals apprehended have also been identified, of which 20 are from Rajasthan, 19 from Uttar Pradesh and 211 from Haryana.
The cybercriminals, who are in the age group of 18-35 years, have revealed that they normally used to work in a group of 3-4 persons," the Nuh SP said. "The cybercriminals have also revealed that fake bank accounts, fake SIM Cards, mobile phones, cash withdrawal/disbursal and technical services such as posting an advertisement on social media websites were provided by only a few individuals in a village after charging their commission fee ranging from 5 to 50 per cent of the fraud amount," Singla added.
The cybercriminals mainly used common service centres for cash withdrawal while some others used ATMs installed in different villages for the same.The SP said the accused usually spent the cheated amount on their house construction, bikes, saloon and their day-to-day meet.
"With this operation, we successfully break the chain of suppliers who provide fake SIM cards, bank accounts and mobile phones to these criminals," he said.Giving details of the modus-operandi, Singla said that these fraudsters used to commit the fraud by luring the victims with attractive offers of sale on products like bikes, cars, mobile phones etc. by posting misleading advertisements on Facebook Bazaar/OLX.
"The unsuspecting victim then calls the fraudster on the given fake mobile number and the fraudster cheats the victim on the pretext of courier charges, transportation of product etc. but the product never gets delivered."
These fraudsters also used to post an advertisement on social media platforms offering work from home mainly related to packaging of Natraj pencils, promising an earning of Rs 30,000 per month and cheating innocent people on the pretext of registration fees, packing materials, courier fees etc," the Nuh SP said.
Similarly, cyber fraudsters used to check random number series in UPI apps to get the names of victims registered against those numbers on those apps. The fraudster then impersonates some friend/relative of those unsuspecting victims and requests them to receive payment on their behalf on one or the other pretext.
They then used to commit fraud by sending fake payment messages and getting the real money transferred to their accounts before the victim found something amiss.Similarly, on the pretext of buying old coins, innocent people were duped with huge sums of money.
The cybercriminals were also duping victims through sextortion crime by creating attractive profiles on social media platforms and luring the victims to come on a video chat where they carry out screen recordings of the victims in compromising positions and then extort huge sums of money from them.
"Sensing the seriousness of cybercrime, 102 police teams were constituted by the Director General of Police, Haryana, which conducted coordinated and simultaneous raids at 320 targeted locations with a 5000-strong force. During the raids, 166 fake Aadhar cards, 5 PAN cards, 128 ATM cards, 66 mobile phones, 99 SIMs, 5 POS machines, 3 laptops etc. were recovered."
The police are working on the multiple leads provided by the cybercriminals arrested in this operation and further raids are being carried out to nab the criminals spread over multiple states, who have since absconded from their villages," Singla added.