According to police, various WhatsApp messages were getting circulated through which recipients were being induced to download an application through a link.
Twelve people, including two Chinese women, were arrested for allegedly cheating people by promising lucrative returns through an online marketing campaign, police said on Friday. The Chinese nationals have been identified as Chaohong Deng Daoyong (27) and Wu Jiazhi (54), they said. The accused installed malwares in devices of people in the garb of an application. The accused have cheated around 40,000 people of crores in two months, police said.
According to police, various WhatsApp messages were getting circulated through which recipients were being induced to download an application through a link. The victim were told that they could earn up to Rs 3,000 daily by spending just 30 minutes on the app. The task given to earn the money was promoting internet celebrities on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
Since the messages were coming from international numbers and inducing recipients to download the app named NEWWORLD.APK, the malware forensic lab was asked to examine the URL, the App as well as other linked aspects, police said. The app was flagged as a malware by a reputed anti-virus. It was accessing users’ phone book and sending messages to their contacts, a senior police officer said.
Police said they received a complaint where the victim alleged that she was cheated of Rs 50,000 after she used an app.
During investigation, it was found that the defrauded money was being routed to multiple bank accounts registered in the name of various companies. The addresses of these companies and the profile of their Indian directors raised suspicion. In some of the companies, Chinese nationals were also found to be the directors, police said.
The money trail analysis revealed that the defrauded money was being laundered through multiple shell companies and through crypto-wallets. “The key operatives behind these shell companies were identified and arrested on Wednesday from several locations across Delhi-NCR,” Deputy Commissioner of Police (CyPAD) Anyesh Roy said.
The police recovered Rs 25.42 lakh from the possession of the Chinese nationals. Twelve bank accounts, crypto-wallets and payment gateway IDs have been blocked and a total of Rs 4.75 crore of the defrauded money has been seized, police said. The payment gateway used by the accused confirmed that 39,781 victims have been defrauded through this app till now, they said.
The accused disclosed that the two Chinese nationals Yangqing Zhang alias Jonathan and Bao Peng alias Eric are the kingpins of this fraud to cheat Indian citizens and hack into their devices through malicious mobile apps, Roy said. They launched this ‘online scheme’ to induce and cheat people by promising lucrative returns based on multi-level marketing model, the DCP said.
In the garb of this scheme, they designed and circulated malwares to illegally capture personal data of people for illegitimate purposes.
The arrested Indian directors and employees also revealed that after circulating the defrauded money in these shell companies, a significant portion was being withdrawn in cash and handed over to local mules, police added.