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From WhatsApp to Telegram, how scammers are still scamming Indian users


Although unwanted international calls have gone down in the past few days, people are still losing money via spam text messages on WhatsApp which has more than 500 million users in the country.

A software engineer at Gurugram lost more than 42 lakh rupees after being lured by scammers with promises of huge profits for simply liking videos on YouTube, first via a WhatsApp message and then adding it to a Telegram group.

In April, with four men arrested, Delhi Police claimed to have busted a gang of online fraudsters swindling more than 500 people under the pretense of ‘online trading’ by a large margin across the country. The official said the gang had links to Chinese associates operating from Dubai.

A senior Delhi Police official told IANS that in the past six months, many cases of fraud have emerged, ultimately linked to Chinese internet gangs using WhatsApp to communicate and lure people.

They lure people in under the pretense of getting small winnings just for the ‘like’ and then scam them out of their hard-earned money from the banks. “Many Chinese gangs have been identified behind such harassment operating across the country and circulating money through hawala channels,” the official said.

According to the police, in her latest complaint, a woman said she was looking for a job online when she received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number.

The letter contains an offer to pay 50 rupees for each like of the social media accounts link sent to her via WhatsApp. I opened various links sent by the caller and liked them. Sanjay Kumar Sen, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central District, said she had sent the screenshot to the sender named Xarina.

Xarina asked her to open the Telegram link to receive the added amount.

“She joined a Telegram channel and Rs 150 was deposited into her bank account. Then Xarina ordered her to join another Telegram channel and like some YouTube videos, which she completed and got Rs 200 in return,” DCP said.

Later, Xarina convinced her to invest in cryptocurrency with the promise of big profits. The woman initially invests 1000 rupees, and Xarina seduces her with the prospect of more profit. However, the woman ended up losing around Rs 22 lakh in one day and requested legal action against Xarina for her actions.

Delhi Police recently exposed an international ring of online scammers based in China, Dubai and the mastermind based in Georgia who defrauded 11,000 people under the pretense of providing online jobs from home at Amazon.

The gang swindled crore rupees under the pretense of providing jobs online. Police have arrested three persons in separate raids carried out in Delhi, Gurugram and Deathabad (Haryana) in this regard.

The investigation indicated that Chinese cybercriminals developed a module to deceive people who are looking for online work from home or part-time jobs as Chinese loan fraud is now declining due to actions by agencies and awareness among people.

It was revealed that the Telegram ID being used by the scammers was being operated from Beijing and that the WhatsApp number – used to defraud the victim by persuading them to invest in a fake Amazon – was also being operated from outside India.

Subsequently, the police wrote an email to the National Payments Board of India (NPCI) and Kotak Mahindra Bank, asking for details of the beneficiaries of the suspicious transactions, and it was revealed that a dummy company account was used to collect money from the victims.

“While examining the details received from the bank, it was found that a total of Rs 5.17 crore had been credited in one day. On another financial trail, it was revealed that the entire amount had been siphoned through seven different companies. Such withdrawal of funds had been made,” the DCP informed. To foreign accounts through cryptocurrency.

In another modus operandi, Delhi Police has arrested eight people who used to deceive people under the pretext of investing and online gaming. The gang used to contact victims via WhatsApp and offered to earn money through investment and online games.

“Then, they add the victims in the Telegram group and show that the other members of the group are making good profits in a short period of time. The victim falls into their trap and transfers money on their instructions and loses the hard-earned money,” the official said.

The gang also lured victims into making money through online games.

“They send them their website link to play games. If someone wins, they give them coins in their account instead of money when the victims ask for money, after which they stop responding to it,” the official said.

Meta-owned WhatsApp last week took action on the growing risk of international scam calls in India, after the government learned of the issue and announced that a notification had been sent to the platform regarding the issue.

“Our new app will reduce the current connection rate by at least 50 percent and we expect to be able to control the current occurrence effectively. We will continue to work tirelessly towards ensuring a safe experience for our users,” a company spokesperson said in a statement.

This week, WhatsApp launched a security campaign called “Stay Safe with WhatsApp” in an effort to raise awareness about its current safety tools and product features.

(Shekhar Singh can be contacted at shekhar.s@ians.in)


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