Bengaluru’s Massive Cyber Fraud: A Deep Dive
Bengaluru, often hailed as the Silicon Valley of India, recently witnessed a massive cyber fraud operation that shook the nation. Here’s a comprehensive look into the scam that involved a whopping ₹854 crore, 84 bank accounts, and a one-bedroom house.
In a nondescript single-bedroom house in Yelahanka, a suburb in Bengaluru, two individuals, a 33-year-old MBA graduate and a 36-year-old software engineer, established a nameless private enterprise. Their modus operandi was simple yet effective. They hired two young employees who were instructed to keep eight mobile phones active round the clock.
The scam came to light when a 26-year-old woman lodged a complaint, stating she was duped of ₹8.5 lakh. She was enticed first through an app and later on a WhatsApp group, promising high returns on small investments. This complaint led the cyber crime police straight to the culprits’ doorstep.
The Extent of the Scam
Investigations unveiled a vast fraud network operating across India. Thousands were deceived after being lured on social media platforms, primarily WhatsApp and Telegram, with promises of high returns on minimal investments. A staggering ₹854 crore was rapidly funneled through 84 bank accounts in just two years. By the time these accounts were identified and frozen by the police in September, a mere ₹5 crore remained.
The National Impact
A deeper dive into the National Cyber Crime Portal revealed 5,013 cases across India linked to the same set of bank accounts used by these cybercriminals. The cases spanned across various states, with 17 from Bengaluru itself, 487 from Karnataka, 719 from Telangana, 642 from Gujarat, and 505 from Uttar Pradesh.
The Money Trail
The siphoned ₹854 crore was channeled into gaming apps, cryptocurrencies like USDT, online casinos, and payment gateways. The primary operators of this scam, suspected to be based in Dubai, encashed these amounts. These operators never physically met their Bengaluru counterparts and communicated solely through social media.
The Bengaluru cyber police are currently probing potential links between the Dubai-based operators and Chinese operatives. A similar scam in Hyderabad had local operatives connected to Dubai-based operators with ties to China. The Hyderabad scam even hinted at a terror funding link, with some funds allegedly diverted to crypto wallets associated with the Hezbollah group.
The Modus Operandi
Victims were primarily lured through WhatsApp and Telegram. They were initially enticed to invest small amounts, ranging from ₹1,000 to ₹10,000, with promises of daily profits between ₹1,000 to ₹5,000. Many victims invested amounts ranging from ₹1 lakh to ₹10 lakh or even more.
Six individuals, including the two masterminds, were arrested in connection with the scam. The Bengaluru Police Commissioner, B Dayananda, confirmed that investigations are ongoing to identify and apprehend the key operatives behind this vast network.
The Bengaluru cyber fraud case serves as a stark reminder of the sophisticated methods employed by cybercriminals in the digital age. As technology continues to evolve, it’s crucial for individuals to remain vigilant and exercise caution, especially when dealing with financial transactions online.