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How Hyderabad Police Busted a Rs 700-Crore Fraud, Exposing Chinese Terror Links

Hyderabad police uncover how a deceitful 'Rate and Review' part-time job scam duped 15,000 people.

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"It all began with a seemingly exciting opportunity... I received a random WhatsApp message about a part-time social media influencer job. Eager to earn some extra income, I registered myself and started with an initial investment of just Rs 5,000," Sukumar (name changed), a resident of Hyderabad, told The Quint.

As the investment offered returns, Sukumar was pleased. He invested more. But little did he know that he was stepping into a web of deceit, designed to trap many unsuspecting investors like him.

On 23 July, the Hyderabad City Police said it uncovered a Rs 700-crore fraud, which allegedly had ties to China and its 'terror networks'. The scamsters allegedly laundered money to China via Dubai, and trapped as many as 15,000 people, including Sukumar, over one year.

The cybercrime wing arrested nine persons from Mumbai, Hyderabad, and Ahmedabad in connection with the multilayer investment fraud.

They have been identified as Prakash Mulchandbhai Prajapati, Kumar Prajapati, Naimuddin Wahiduddin Shaik, Gagan Kumar Soni, Parveez aka Guddu, Shameer Khan, Mohammed Munawar, Shah Sumair, and Arul Das. The police are on the lookout for at least six others.

But what lies at the centre of this cybercrime, and how did the alleged links to terror groups come to light? The Quint explains.

How Hyderabad Police Busted a Rs 700-Crore Fraud, Exposing Chinese Terror Links

  1. 1. How Fraudsters Lured Innocent Investors

    With glossy brochures and simple-to-do tasks that promised lucrative financial success, a team of cyber criminals executed the transnational employment and investment scam, duping over Rs 700 crore in less than a year, as per Hyderabad City Police Commissioner CV Anand.

    Speaking to the media on 23 July, he said the details of the scam were unearthed during an investigation into a complaint filed by a Chikkadpally resident, who lost about Rs 28 lakh to the fraudsters. The victim fell into a 'Rate and Review' part-time job scam via Telegram and traveling-boost-99.com, starting with a Rs 1,000 investment.

    As he earned a profit of Rs 866, he was enticed to invest more, eventually leading him to invest Rs 25 lakh for 30 premium tasks. However, he never received the promised returns.

    The victims were drawn into the illusion of a secure and profitable future, unaware of the sinister plot that lay ahead, according to the police.

    Sukumar, a middle-aged father hoping to secure his children's future, told The Quint, "They (online job providers) said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wanted to give my family the life they deserved."

    "The job involved liking YouTube videos and writing Google reviews for products. In the beginning, I saw some good returns, making me believe in the legitimacy of the venture."
    Sukumar, a victim of the investment fraud

    Sukumar further recalls, "Encouraged by the apparent small profits, I decided to invest more, hoping for greater rewards. But little did I know, I was stepping into a well-organised scam. As I invested more and performed numerous tasks, the promised profits vanished, and I realised I had been cheated. I lost a significant amount of Rs 1,00,000, leaving me in financial distress."

    Expand
  2. 2. The Sting Operation

    The Hyderabad City Police executed a 'sting operation' to track down the accused involved in the Rs 700-crore fraud. As part of the operation, undercover officers assumed false identities and integrated themselves into the criminal ranks.

    As the investigation unfolded, the police were able to trace the money trail and identify key connections between the accused and their overseas collaborators. The scam involved a sophisticated chain of transactions, with funds being converted into cryptocurrency (USDT) and transferred, allowing the accused to earn a 3% commission on each transaction.

    During the sting, the officers also discovered that the accused were operating multiple bank accounts under the guise of shell companies. These accounts were instrumental in laundering and funneling the ill-gotten funds to foreign destinations.

    Expand
  3. 3. The China Connection – Via Dubai

    As the police delved deeper, the investigation revealed shocking links that transcended borders. The fraudulent network allegedly had connections to organised crime syndicates in China.

    According to the police, the funds were channelled to China through Dubai, with a portion of it also being transferred to an account associated with the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.

    A police official, on condition of anonymity, told The Quint that the police were astonished to discover the international dimensions of this fraud. "The perpetrators had carefully orchestrated their moves, making it difficult to trace their operations back to China," he added.

    "Using Indian SIM cards, the accounts of cyber fraudsters were established within India and then remotely controlled from Dubai. The masterminds of the scam, who were Chinese operators, maintained communication with the fraudsters throughout the operation. The money moved through multiple accounts and was converted into cryptocurrency," the official added.

    Commissioner Anand said that the police traced a crucial account linked to Radhika Marketing Company in Hyderabad, associated with Mohammed Munawar and three accomplices – Arul Das, Shah Sumair, and Sameer Khan. The police traced Munawar, whose phone number was linked to the marketing company, and arrested him along with his aides.

    "These individuals established 65 accounts using names of 33 shell companies in Lucknow, facilitating the movement of over Rs 128 crores of fraudulently obtained funds on behalf of Chinese masterminds Kevin Jun, Lee Lou Langzhou, and Shasha," said the police.

    The investigation further revealed that Dubai-based operatives with direct ties to the Chinese network were responsible for transferring the illicit funds into cryptocurrency wallets.

    (At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

    Expand

How Fraudsters Lured Innocent Investors

With glossy brochures and simple-to-do tasks that promised lucrative financial success, a team of cyber criminals executed the transnational employment and investment scam, duping over Rs 700 crore in less than a year, as per Hyderabad City Police Commissioner CV Anand.

Speaking to the media on 23 July, he said the details of the scam were unearthed during an investigation into a complaint filed by a Chikkadpally resident, who lost about Rs 28 lakh to the fraudsters. The victim fell into a 'Rate and Review' part-time job scam via Telegram and traveling-boost-99.com, starting with a Rs 1,000 investment.

As he earned a profit of Rs 866, he was enticed to invest more, eventually leading him to invest Rs 25 lakh for 30 premium tasks. However, he never received the promised returns.

The victims were drawn into the illusion of a secure and profitable future, unaware of the sinister plot that lay ahead, according to the police.

Sukumar, a middle-aged father hoping to secure his children's future, told The Quint, "They (online job providers) said it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I wanted to give my family the life they deserved."

"The job involved liking YouTube videos and writing Google reviews for products. In the beginning, I saw some good returns, making me believe in the legitimacy of the venture."
Sukumar, a victim of the investment fraud

Sukumar further recalls, "Encouraged by the apparent small profits, I decided to invest more, hoping for greater rewards. But little did I know, I was stepping into a well-organised scam. As I invested more and performed numerous tasks, the promised profits vanished, and I realised I had been cheated. I lost a significant amount of Rs 1,00,000, leaving me in financial distress."

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The Sting Operation

The Hyderabad City Police executed a 'sting operation' to track down the accused involved in the Rs 700-crore fraud. As part of the operation, undercover officers assumed false identities and integrated themselves into the criminal ranks.

As the investigation unfolded, the police were able to trace the money trail and identify key connections between the accused and their overseas collaborators. The scam involved a sophisticated chain of transactions, with funds being converted into cryptocurrency (USDT) and transferred, allowing the accused to earn a 3% commission on each transaction.

During the sting, the officers also discovered that the accused were operating multiple bank accounts under the guise of shell companies. These accounts were instrumental in laundering and funneling the ill-gotten funds to foreign destinations.

0

The China Connection – Via Dubai

As the police delved deeper, the investigation revealed shocking links that transcended borders. The fraudulent network allegedly had connections to organised crime syndicates in China.

According to the police, the funds were channelled to China through Dubai, with a portion of it also being transferred to an account associated with the Lebanon-based terror group Hezbollah.

A police official, on condition of anonymity, told The Quint that the police were astonished to discover the international dimensions of this fraud. "The perpetrators had carefully orchestrated their moves, making it difficult to trace their operations back to China," he added.

"Using Indian SIM cards, the accounts of cyber fraudsters were established within India and then remotely controlled from Dubai. The masterminds of the scam, who were Chinese operators, maintained communication with the fraudsters throughout the operation. The money moved through multiple accounts and was converted into cryptocurrency," the official added.

Commissioner Anand said that the police traced a crucial account linked to Radhika Marketing Company in Hyderabad, associated with Mohammed Munawar and three accomplices – Arul Das, Shah Sumair, and Sameer Khan. The police traced Munawar, whose phone number was linked to the marketing company, and arrested him along with his aides.

"These individuals established 65 accounts using names of 33 shell companies in Lucknow, facilitating the movement of over Rs 128 crores of fraudulently obtained funds on behalf of Chinese masterminds Kevin Jun, Lee Lou Langzhou, and Shasha," said the police.

The investigation further revealed that Dubai-based operatives with direct ties to the Chinese network were responsible for transferring the illicit funds into cryptocurrency wallets.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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Topics:   Cyber Crime   Hyderabad   Terrorism 

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