NEW DELHI: A pan-India ‘fraud to phone’ racket has been busted by a home ministry unit in joint operations with the Madhya Pradesh police and other state forces, leading to the arrest of eight people — across Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand and Andhra Pradesh — who cheated people through cyber fraud and used the money to buy expensive China-made phones from e-commerce sites. The phones were then sold in the black market at a 5-10% discount but at a huge profit for the crooks.
The ‘fraud to phone’ (F2P) gang involved hundreds of operatives who were running different legs of the transactions involving OTP fraud, credit card fraud, e-commerce fraud, fake IDs, fake mobile numbers, fake addresses, black marketing, tax evasion, money laundering and dealing with stolen goods. The 8 arrested had defrauded their victims of around Rs 20 crore.
As part of the probe that started with the reporting of a Rs 6.5 lakh cyber fraud on June 11 to Cybersafe, an app created by FCORD and operational since August 2019, by a 78-year-old Udaipur resident, eight 8 ‘fraud to phone’ (F2P) gang masterminds (4 in Jharkhand, two each in MP and Jharkhand) have been arrested and nearly 300 new mobile phones bought from stolen funds seized. Further, 900 cell phones, 1000 bank accounts and hundreds of UPI and e-commerce IDs of this gang were identified and are under investigation, while nearly 100 bank accounts and debit/credit cards were frozen. The operation against the F2P gang has expanded to 18 States and 350 persons now and is ongoing.
The accused are being questioned about the reasons for preference of China-made phones, especially those made by Xiaomi.
Sources told TOI that the key arrested accused in the case, 28-year-old Hukum Singh Bisen from Balaghat, Madhya Pradesh, is an M Tech in Digital Communication and works for a private telecom company that executes contracts for Railways. An IAS aspirant, he created 16 Whatsapp groups with 156 members, each of which had accounts with ecommerce websites like Flipkart and Amazon. “These were used to siphon defrauded funds to buy mobile phones,” said an investigator.
Tracking via CyberSafe app revealed that Rs 6.5 lakh funds siphoned from the complainant in Udaipur by an F2P gang member calling from Jharkhand, was directly credited to 3 SBI cards, which were used to buy 33 expensive China-made Xiaomi POCO M3 mobile phones from Flipkart.
Within minutes the addresses where these were delivered in Balaghat (MP) were identified and SP Balaghat informed. MP police detained the mastermind Hukum Singh and all 33 new phones and 70 other phones were seized from him. The F2P gang bought these phones for about Rs 10,000 each and sold them in the black market for 5-10% discount. Jharkhand police have arrested the F2P caller.
CyberSafe links more than 3,000 law enforcement authorities (LEAs), including police stations, in 19 States/UTs with 18 fintech entities online and in real-time.
As soon as a victim informs the police, the information is entered on CyberSafe and in real time, fund flows are identified and communicated.
Till now 65,000 phone frauds have been reported on this app and 55,000 phone numbers and several thousand bank accounts of fraudsters identified.