Regulators and security experts repeatedly issue warnings to educate people about online fraud. Unfortunately, these warnings are mostly ignored and cybercriminals continue to trick people with impunity, especially with tricks aimed at catering to greed for quick money. The promise of riches through currency trading is a new trick to trick people with the greed factor, while sextortion is a trick that plays on the “fear factor” and involves outright blackmail. Let’s look at the two types of fraud.
Amdani Solution aka Currency Trading Fraud
In Indore, a gang opened their office in the name of Amdani Solutions and attracted several investors with huge returns through foreign currency trading (forex trading). The gang allegedly opened nearly 500 demat accounts in the name of a group of investors, who handed over their money to the scammers without knowing anything about currency exchanges. The gang controlled all accounts through an app they developed called MetaTraders.
“Later, when the client wanted to profit from this amount, more money had to be transferred to different bank accounts in the name of GST conversion and settlement charges,” the report said, quoting an official from the police.
Cybercriminal wing of Uttar Pradesh Police (UP) has arrested Shoib Mansoori, a key member of the gang, from Indore.
Around 500 of these frauds, dematerialized accounts were opened and people from different states were duped out of around Rs 15 crore, the report says.
The lesson here is to never invest your hard earned money in a product you don’t understand.
Naked video calls and sextortion
It was a 16 second video call and an Indian Administrative Services (IAS) cadre officer has not slept properly for the past 18 months. His family life is in shambles and he is under intense stress.
In February last year, the officer received a video call from a woman. Less than ten minutes later, he received his transformed photograph with the woman in a compromising position. Before he could realize what had happened, these photographs were sent to his wife and daughters via WhatsApp.
The number from which he received the video call became unavailable. However, he received a call on his landline demanding Rs5 lakh for not making the morphed photos go viral. The IAS officer filed a complaint and the criminals were found, but they were released on bail within five months.
Triveni Singh, Superintendent of Police of UP’s Cyber Crime Cell, told IANS: “The peak crime in today’s cyber world is related to nude photos that are transformed from ‘video calls. You answer a video call and the scammers take screenshots and turn them into nudes which are then used for blackmail.’
Even former Central Information Commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi received a WhatsApp video call on his mobile. When he saw a girl undressing on the other side, he immediately cut the call. Later, he also received a message on WhatsApp but did not respond.
However, two days later he received a call from a person claiming to be former IPS officer Rakesh Asthana who told him that action would be taken against the former CIC. Mr. Gandhi disconnected the call and filed an FIR at the Santacruz police station. The case is registered under sections 385 and 66(E) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
“The whole system seems to be afflicted with learned helplessness,” says Mr Gandhi. “A significant portion of cybercrime comes from a mobile phone. The owners of the SIM card can be easily identified. These are most likely issued on false documents. If so, dealers or agents who accepted false identities should be held accountable. An automated system could easily be designed to handle most of the process. This would encourage citizens to report fraud. Instead of victims, perpetrators should be scared.”
In another case, a well-known lawyer also received a video call, followed by a request for money. He files an FIR at the nearest police station.
As the number of sextortion cases increases, the victim must file an FIR so that there is proper action against the culprits.
According to reports, the tri-junction of Haryana, Rajasthan and UP has quickly become the ‘New Jamtara’ of sextortion rackets. The gangs operate in the Mewat region of Haryana. Besides, Bhiwadi, Tijara, Kishangarh Bas, Ramgarh, Laxmangarh in Alwar and Nagar, Pahadi and Govindgarh in Bharatpur are also major areas from where these cyber thugs operate.
According to an IANS report, in just eight months in 2021, police in Rajasthan recorded complaints of cheating to the tune of Rs55.56 crore. Most of these cases are related to sextortion. At least 36 gangs have been dismantled and 600 defendants arrested by Alwar police in the sextortion cases.
How do I report cyber fraud?