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The Economic Offences Wing (EOW) has issued an advisory warning public not to fall into trap of several online websites offering additional income on daily basis.
The EOW had earlier arrested a person from Pune on the charges of running an online ponzi scam and duping investors. The accused was identified as Vishal Sakharam Utkar, a resident of Latur, Maharashtra. The accused was arrested based on the complaint filed by one Dibyajyoti Kar of Nayapalli area in Bhubaneswar alleging that that he came across a WhatsApp group after watching some promotional videos of 'GETSO Earning App.'
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During the course of investigation, the investigating officer came across another fraudulent website -www.smsmvip.com. On opening of the website, it shows the name “Marathon Digital Holdings” which claims to be an investment site in which investors could earn additional income on daily basis by investing a minimum amount of Rs 1000 and maximum up to Rs 2 lakh.
“To lure investors, they give some instant amount without doing anything (like on initial investment of Rs 1000 the investors are getting Rs 150 without doing anything). This website has been created in USA and being operated from Hong Kong (China),” EOW said in an advisory.
Operation of the Website
As per EOW, the dubious website has a unique modus operandi in which an investor is given a set of tasks - liking some videos on YouTube etc. Further, the investor is required to send screenshots relating to the completion of the task as proof for completion of the task to the tutor on the Telegram Chat.
For each task, the investor has to deposit a minimal amount of Rs 1000, which needs to be paid through an UPI ID reflected on the website.
During enquiry, it came to light that the UPI ID’s reflected in the website for payment towards investment were linked to Bank accounts maintained in the name of many shell companies, firms and mule accounts maintained in the name of individual persons.
Statement of accounts of 11 accounts linked to this fraud website was analyzed and found that within a period of 3-4 months, the accounts had total transactions of Rs 39.11 crore with a left over Balance of 11.91 lakh only, which was then freezed by the EOW.
Bulk amount from most of these accounts was transferred to three accounts maintained with HDFC Bank, in which the total transactions were more than Rs 85 lakh out of which Rs 41.26 lakh was subsequently withdrawn in Dubai. The website is still active and defrauding thousands of investors. It is suspected that at least 3700 investors across India have already been duped by this website/scheme.
Do not respond to unknown WhatsApp messages luring you to earn additional income. These numbers generally show Non-Indian mobile numbers.
The communication/call is never made live, but through Telegram or WhatsApp chats.
The website claims to give additional incomes through investment in crypto mining or liking websites/ videos etc and the website sends links for joining/ becoming member.
While making payment in the given UPI ID’s, security/ warning messages are sent by Banks.
The payment UPI ID’S show names of various companies, firms and enterprises.