Vikash Sharma

The Odisha Crime Branch on Wednesday claimed a major breakthrough in busting a criminal gang allegedly involved in Crypto, stock and IPO investment frauds. A total of 15 persons, including two masterminds from Delhi and 13 others from different parts of Odisha have been arrested in this connection.

The masterminds have been identified as Tushar Sharma and Bhavesh Thakur alias Alex from Delhi.

Crime Branch ADG Arun Bothra informed that the accused from Odisha were involved in the opening of mule accounts in different banks to facilitate the transfer of funds. According to Bothra, some of the accused had also opened accounts in their own name and utilized it for transferring the fraudulently obtained money. They were fully aware of the fact that these accounts were being used for cyber fraud activities and were beneficiaries of the cheated amount.

How The Gang Was Busted?

A complainant from Bhubaneswar alleged that some individuals posing as staff at Securities Company, Representative of Blackstone Investment Group involved in online trading along with some others duped him in March this year. Initially, the victim had received a message on Facebook inviting him to join a WhatsApp group focused on institutional trading with discounts on shares and promising high investment returns.

The victim subsequently opened a trading account with Blackstone Trading and initially transferred Rs. 5 lakh from his wife's account. Over a period of time, he transferred a total of Rs. 3 crore.

“When the complainant requested for withdrawal, he was asked to pay a 20% management fee on his profits, which they claimed had exceeded 300%. His requests went unanswered and the persons as well as the accounts went untraceable,” said Bothra.

Magnitude Of The Racket

As per the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) of I4C ( Ministry of Home Affairs), these accused have been involved in a series of cyber frauds across the country. The mule accounts have been involved in 81 offences across the nation including the case in Bhubaneswar.

How The Fraud Was Committed?

As per senior Crime Branch officials, cybercriminals first used to identify their targets through social media and used to establish contact. Later, they invited them to join WhatsApp or Telegram groups for discussions on trading and investments. Subsequently, the victims were enticed into opening fake trading accounts with the promise of high returns. Although the victims could see that their money was apparently growing in the fake trading platform, they were prevented from making any withdrawals.

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