Hyderabad: Fraudsters who duped a city-based businessman of Rs 17.5 lakh in the guise of online forex trade have cheated at least six others in similar fashion after befriending them on online dating networks, including a retired armed forces officer who lost Rs 23 lakh.
The accused, suspected to be operating from Hong Kong, had used phone numbers of Hong Kong (+852), Singapore (+65) and the UK (+44), used Indian agents who provided them local bank accounts. One such local associate, K Rajesh Kumar, an engineering graduate from Kondapur arrested by police for duping city-based businessman K Umakanth of Rs 17.5 lakh was found to have acted in collusion with the absconding accused suspected to be from China.
Their modus operandi was to befriend the victims posing as a woman on Tinder or WeChat and then lure them to online forex trade and crypto currency with a promise of quick money.
After the victim transferred money into an Indian bank account provided by the fraudsters as investment, the accused showed profits in dummy online trading account and even transferred some money to gain their trust. But once the victim had transferred a significant amount, they would cut off contact and disappear.
Two accused, who spoke to one of the victims as ‘Mina’ on online dating platform Tinder and ‘Mike’ on social networking network WeChat, also used various aliases such as Nancy, Lilly, Sully and Sean. Rajesh told police that he had met Sean in China during a business visit in 2017 and, on his request, provided local bank account for online trading. When police analysed the three bank accounts provided to Mike and Mina by Rajesh, they noticed that seven from Hyderabad, Pune, Mumbai and Chennai had deposited Rs 44 lakh into the accounts.
When cops contacted the other depositors, they told police about forex trade and crypto currency investments through Mike, Mina, Lilly and Nancy. The investors, including the ex-armed forces officer, told cops about nine other bank accounts into which some of them transferred their investments.
“Some other bank accounts are in Delhi and other places. So, we suspect that there could be other agents like Rajesh in the country and more victims. Some other investors are not yet convinced that they were duped and some do not want to lodge a complaint, ” a Cyberabad police officer said.
As the money is being transferred to fraudsters in the form of BitCoins and the only communication with the victims was through text messages on Tinder, WeChat and WhatsApp (no voice calls or video calls have been made), police said that it would be difficult to trace the accused suspected to be in China.
“We have filed a petition in court seeking custody of Rajesh to gather more details about the fraud,” Cyberabad assistant commissioner of police (ACP) Ch Y Srinivas Kumar said.