Hyderabad: On 28 April, a software engineer from Khajaguda, Hyderabad, placed an order for groceries worth over Rs. 1,500 on www.zopnow.in. When he did not get any text confirming his order, he contacted the customer care number and sent an email. He got no response and approached the police. The website was fake and he had been cheated.

The website was created by a 30-year-old web developer Rishabh Upadhyay from Varanasi. During the lockdown when many people were opting for online shopping, Rishabh created two websites - www.zopnow.com for groceries and furniture website www.modwayfurniture.in. People from across the country, including nine from the Cyberabad commissionerate area, have visited these fake websites. Seven of them fell victims to www.zopnow.in and two to www.modwayfurniture.in.

The Raidurgam police on Friday arrested Rishabh while Rahul, a digital marketing expert from Punjab, is absconding.

From victim to perpetrator

Rishabh got the idea for the fake websites after he was cheated while looking for work on freelancing websites www.freelancer.com and www.upwork.com. About three years ago, a person by the name Prince from USA contacted him to design a new website called www.jobfinder.info. He completed the project and handed it over to Prince. Later, he found that the website was fake and many people had been cheated.

Inspired by this, he hatched a plan to start a similar racket and created fake Skype accounts with fake names. Rishabh contacted people and promised to provide them US onsite job visas and directed them to open new bank accounts in SVC Cooperative Bank, Bandhan Bank, and Bank of India. He would then collect the internet banking kits through DTDC courier.

He had also developed fake furniture website www.deckup.com by using the credentials of one Shivendra Singh Rana. He tried to take orders on the website but the Razorpay account was blocked after a few transactions. He could withdraw only Rs. 28,000 and the remaining money, approximately Rs. 20 lakh, was blocked by Razorpay.

He had also opened about 20 cash-free payment gateway accounts using the credentials of people he had met on Skype or through freelancer.com.

The Raidurgam police arrested Rishabh from Bangalore and seized cash worth Rs. 40 lakhs, 20 debit cards, phones and passbooks.

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