The Delhi police has busted a Chinese scam, where more than half a million Indians have been cheated of over ₹150 crore in two months.
In a nationwide fraud syndicate operated by Chinese nationals in connivance with Indian fraudsters were offering lucrative returns on an online multi-level marketing (MLM) campaign through their two “malicious mobile applications” Power Bank and EZPlan.
Eleven people, including a Tibetan woman and two chartered accountants (CAs) based in Delhi and Gurugram, were arrested following multiple raids in Delhi-NCR and West Bengal since June 2. The traces of syndicates were confirmed in West Bengal, Delhi-NCR, Bengaluru, Odisha, Assam, and Surat.
Nearly ₹11 crore of cheated money was blocked in various bank accounts and online payment gateways that were being operated by the members of the syndicate based in India as well as China. Around ₹97 lakh was recovered from one of the arrested CAs, Avik Kedia, who formed over 110 “shell companies” for Chinese fraudsters to route the money through multiple bank accounts.
The two mobile apps – “Power Bank and ExPlan” – that offered to double the invested amount in 24-35 days and also offered returns on an hourly and daily basis and had investment options starting from ₹300 to several lakhs.
The Power Bank app was available on Google Play Store and trending at No 4. The EZPlan app was available on the website www.ezplan.in.
The forensic lab of CyPAD-NCFL was asked to examine both the apps, they found that the Power Bank app projected itself as a product of a Bengaluru-based technology start-up. However, the server on which the app was hosted was found to be based in China. The app is associated with several dangerous permissions such as access to camera, read and write to external storage and to read contact details of the cell phone.
Initially the fraudsters gave a small pay-out amounting to 5-10% of the invested money. When people believing the scheme to be genuine, started investing more money as well as circulating and sharing the apps with their friends and relatives and had invested a large amount, their account was blocked by the app, leading to financial loss.
Police arrest Sheikh Robin in West Bengal’s Uluberia on June 2. The same day, nine other suspects were arrested, and a Tibetan woman, Pema Wangmo, was arrested later from Delhi’s IGI Airport, She was acting on request of the Chinese and creating shell companies with Indian directors. The other arrested persons were identified as Avik Kedia and Ronak Bansal, both CAs, Umakant Akash Joys, Ved Chandra, Hari Om, Abhishek Mansaramani, Arvind , Shashi Bansal and Mithlesh Sharma. At the time of his arrest, Robin had 29 bank accounts and 30 active mobiles. It’s well-planned conspiracy of cheating and fraud being organized by Chinese nationals through shell companies, bank accounts, and dummy mobile numbers.