Hyderabad: Cracking down on a major scam, officials of the Economic Offences Wing, Cyberabad Commissionerate busted a cheating racket that has duped around 20,000 persons across the country to a tune of Rs 50 crores. Three persons were arrested and many, including two Chinese nationals, are said to be absconding.
The victims of the fraud were enticed with the promise of huge returns on investments made in the name of 'Shared Bike (BK)' or 'Sharing Economy' operated through a website, www.ciciseo.com. In the market, the operation was popularly known as Shared BK App.
Police said that a case has been registered under the Telangana State Protection of Depositors of Financial Establishments Act, 1999. A sum of Rs 3 crore, four laptops, and three mobile phones were seized. Ten bank accounts connected to the case have been frozen.
According to the police, the prime accused has been identified as Uday Pratap, 41, resident of Gurgaon, Haryana. He is the authorized signatory for an account with a private bank at Kukatpally of Mobicentric Technologies, Hyderabad, which is one of the fraudulent companies. He is also the director of Corporfountain India Pvt. Ltd., Gurgaon.
The other two are Nitesh Kumar Kothari, 36, and Rajesh Sharma, 36. The two are involved in the development of the mobile application for ciciseo.com and were directors of Adstuck Consulting Pvt. Ltd.
On verification with the Registrar of Companies (RoC) the addresses of these companies were found to be fake. All the companies were registered with RoCs at Delhi, Kanpur, Pune and Bangalore.
The three were working for two Chinese nationals - Zhang Hongwei AKA Peter and Peng Guowei AKA Javie - who are the kingpins of the operation, the police said.
According to the police, the accused through different Whatsapp admins across the country shared the information about 'Shared BK/Sharing Economy' inviting investments/deposits in their schemes while assuring 4.5 times returns on the deposits in 90 days.
The schemes offered easy money which attracted many to come forward and participate in the schemes. People initially invested Rs 300 and Rs 3,000 for returns of Rs 1,350 and Rs 13,500 within 90 days. When they started receiving credits into their bank accounts, they felt encouraged to invest upwards of Rs 30,000 and more. They got their relatives and friends to invest in the schemes too, drastically increasing the amount of money that was invested in the scam.
They shared their personal and bank details through a link from ciciseo.com and became members. The payment was made through Razorpay payment gateway. The depositors would pay by clicking the link received on their registered phone number. This would reflect as virtual balance in their mobile app. As per the scheme, the returns on the sum invested will be shown in the 'withdrawal/pending payments' and credited to the depositors' bank account. After amassing huge amounts, the app was shut down on 25 January 2020.
Investigation revealed that the money paid by the depositors has been credited to the bank accounts of fraudulent Indian companies registered with Razorpay payment gateway through various Chinese websites like realmoneyrummy.com, mangakingdom.html, 51cybertel.com, rummytime.cc, rummywish.com and mirummy.com etc. The fraudulent companies to which money was transferred were Alidada Technologies Pvt. Ltd, (Bengaluru), Ashenfallous Technologies Pvt. Ltd (Kanpur), Bridge Tera Technologies Pvt. Ltd (Kanpur), Cybertel Infotech Pvt. Ltd (Pune), Geldtech Technologies Pvt. Ltd (Bengaluru), Mobicentric Technologies Pvt. Ltd (Hyderabad), Techdig Fintech Pvt. Ltd (Delhi) and Toning World International Pvt. Ltd (Kanpur).
The Cyberabad Police, in coordination with the RBI, ROCs, and other agencies concerned, will try to elicit more information about the Chinese directors and retrieve payment receipts pertaining to the investments of various China-based companies, apps, and find involvement of Indian companies and their directors in the fraud.
Public are advised to refrain from investing in such fraudulent schemes.
If any person or company approaches with similar offers and attractive schemes the public is requested to inform their nearest police station or DIAL 100 or post the complaint on Economic Offences Wing's Whatsapp number 9493625553 or Cyberabad Whatsapp control room number 9490617444.