Chandigarh police unearth work-from-home scam, 9 held

Digging deeper into the work-from-home scam wherein a gang of online fraudsters duped several people of crores after offering them lucrative returns through fake remote jobs, police have arrested a total of nine gang members. The gang contacted the victims through Whatsapp and Telegram, offering lucrative online part-time jobs. (iStock) With their arrest, police have cracked three cases of cyber crime, registered in June and July, while probe continues into a total of 181 similar complaints, where Chandigarh residents have lost ₹3.97 crore over the past few months. The first three to be arrested were Sandeep Kumar Sangwan, 28, of Charkhi Dadri, Haryana, a commerce postgraduate; Rakesh, 28, also from Charkhi Dadri, a graduate; and Manish Rawat, 33, of Dayalpur, Delhi, a Class-12 pass-out. Their arrest came following a probe into the complaint by Kawaljeet Singh of Sector 38, Chandigarh, who runs a travel agency. He had approached the police after being defrauded of ₹39.53 lakh by the gang and a case was registered on June 29. A total of 14 mobile phones, eight bank account kits, and five flex boards and seven stamps of shell firms were recovered from their possession. The second case was registered on July 15. Here, police arrested five members of the same gang, including Aditya Sharma, 20, and Mahesh Sharma, 34, both residents of Madhya Pradesh; Raj Kumar Narang, 47, of Janakpuri, Delhi; Pratik Maingi, 35, of Vikaspuri, Delhi; and Mahesh Kumar, 35, of Kalkaji, Delhi. The FIR was lodged on the complaint of a woman, who was cheated to the tune of ₹45.40 lakh through WhatsApp and Telegram links. According to police, Narang also operated his module from Dubai for four months. Police recovered 10 mobile phones, two cheque books, six SIM cards, 11 stamps and two bounced cheques from the five accused. The ninth gang member, Vishal Verma, 34, an arts graduate from Jodhpur, was arrested on the July 1 complaint of a woman, who lost ₹7.62 lakh to the fraudsters. Modus operandi As per police, the gang contacted the victims through Whatsapp/Telegram, offering lucrative online part-time jobs. They would share links of groups, which already had multiple members to gain the victims’ trust. “After offering them nominal profits for tasks such as liking social media posts, they would invite the victims to invest money for high returns. Once the victims transferred the money, they would remove them from the groups,” SP Ketan Bansal said. After duping the victims, the fraudsters invested the money in crypto currency in Dubai, China, Indonesia and Pakistan through various digital wallets. “Those arrested also opened shell trading companies for cheating and money laundering. We found 20 such shell companies,” said A Venkatesh, DSP (Cyber). Police said a few chartered accountants, employees of reputed private banks and advocates were also involved in the scam.

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