Police detained two people from UP & Bihar involved in 2,700 cybercrime complaints.
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Shruti Sneha, Pune

Reports of fraud involving work-from-home jobs appear almost every day. They entail offering payment for simple tasks, such as interacting with social media content, before lowering the big bait: invest now to increase your return. The funds and the “employers” then disappear.

A Gurgaon police team arrested two of these “employers” earlier this month. They were based in Gopalgunj, Bihar, and Prayagraj, Uttar Pradesh. As of right now, the two are connected to 2,700 complaints of cyber fraud that have been filed in various states, with the most in Uttar Pradesh (683), Rajasthan (262), and Telangana (213). In Haryana, they are accused of defrauding 112 more people. Out of these complaints, 142 were filed as formal complaints, and the two defrauded Rs 10.3 crore of online users. 

Linkage analysis, which uses a central database to link cybercrimes reported nationwide, is one method police can use to accomplish this. The arrested couple worked with at least four accomplices in Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, and in Kaithal, Haryana, according to police. Preliminary inquiries reveal that an amount of Rs 15 crore was moved into a Chinese national’s bank account. 

The trial started on November 30, 2018, with a complaint filed at the Cyber East police station. The complainant informed Gurgaon police that after investing in a task-based scam, he was defrauded of Rs 8.5 lakh. Utkarsh Soni, a goldsmith in Prayagraj, was the first suspect to be taken into custody by Gurgaon police on February 14 due to their investigation into bank accounts used to transfer money.

After confessing, Utkarsh led police to Ashutosh, a Gopalgunj student and the second accused who provided information about other associates. “The two men’s details were linked to 2,702 cybercrime complaints, including 142 FIRs registered across police stations in the nation, and victims who filed these complaints were defrauded of Rs 10.3 crore,” stated Siddhant Jain, DCP (cybercrime), “through linkage analysis on the Union home ministry’s I4C (Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre) database”.

The investigation into an elaborate cybercrime scheme has shifted focus to Chander Prakash Tiwari, a resident of Kaithal, Haryana. After interrogating Ashutosh on February 22, police arrested Chander and three associates—Nitin Kumar, Abhinav, and Ankit—from Bijnor, Uttar Pradesh, in Panchkula respectively. According to Inspector Jasvir Singh of Cyber East police station, Chander was a key player in the group. He pressured Utkarsh and Ashutosh to open bank accounts and offered them commissions of 1.5% to 2% for money collected through online scams. 

Law enforcement has tracked Rs 15 crore transferred from the gang’s accounts to bank and cryptocurrency holdings possibly belonging to a Chinese individual. They are also investigating the history of an inmate in Lucknow who is believed to have acted as a bridge between Chander and Chinese handlers based in multiple countries (Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Dubai). Another individual jailed in Lucknow is also under scrutiny for alleged involvement, highlighting the global nature of this criminal network.

The Indian Penal Code, Section 420, charges the accused of dishonesty and cheating. Linkage analysis is a crucial tool in the fight against cyber fraud, according to Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Jain, who highlighted how it keeps accused people who are involved in several cases from being released on bond.