The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has cracked its whip on one of the biggest online ponzi-cum-betting rackets of recent times which had duped investors from Odisha’s Ganjam and other parts of the country.
The online ponzi-cum-betting racket was operating by the name ‘18Football.Com’ and it was being run from China and Dubai, the EOW said in a release on Friday.
Two accused- Rustam Khan and Md. Hakim, who are the Directors of a shell company- Hakim & Rustam Fabrics Private Limited, Kolkata have been arrested in this connection on February 22. They have now been brought to Odisha on a five-day transit remand.
The accused have confessed that they were getting instructions from one Md Sheikh Saifi from Dubai.
The EOW officials informed that initially around 800 duped investors from Ganjam had lodged FIR in connection with the fraud.
The complainants from Ganjam and other parts of the country had invested money in 18football.com with the intention to earn quick money.
Crucial findings in investigation
Out of 150+ bank accounts involved in this racket, EOW has analysed 17 accounts. So far transactions of Rs 108 crore have already been traced.
It is suspected that money involved in this scam may go beyond Rs 1000 crore.
The EOW claims that it is a huge international scam running online from a website that has been registered in Hong Kong (China) and also operated from Dubai.
The EOW will rope in other law enforcement agencies of central and other state governments and also Interpol to unearth the scam.
How the scam happened?
18football.com is a hybrid model of fraud where Ponzi scheme (Multilevel Marketing) is run online in the name of football betting/ gaming APP.
Investors were promised three per cent daily compound return on investment, recharge bonus, referral bonus, extra bonus on the earning of the downline members, salary bonus, daily withdrawal option etc.
Investors need to create an account with “18football.com” either by application or through offline referral link, and were being asked to bet money in some football matches as prescribed in the website/ APP.
Investors were also provided with foreigner “mentor” to assist them in betting. These mentors used to communicate through telegram or Apps only.
Senior EOW officials said that the fraudsters were also taking up the promotional activities like some social works, charity in the rural areas to mislead people and create an impression that the scheme was from a genuine organisation.
“The fraudsters initially paid the promised return for some few days to the investors. But they stopped making any payment and closed the app “18football.com” when the membership increased,” EOW said.