Fraud Tides II, 12 Feb 2023
Updated: Apr 29
Collation by Shreya Sharma, M.Sc.
Concept and design: Amit Sharma, M.Sc.
Despite increased awareness and efforts by law enforcement agencies, scams and frauds continue to plague our society. From the simplest forms of phishing emails to complex money laundering schemes, fraudsters are constantly evolving their techniques to dupe unsuspecting victims. In this blog, we will look at some recent examples of fraud and scams reported globally.
One such case involves a money laundering scam where the director of a company based out of Bangalore cheated the Union Bank of India and availed a loan of Rs 23.73 crores by creating collateral security based on fabricated documents. The loan proceeds were then diverted for purposes other than those for which it was sanctioned. The accused is also believed to be the mastermind behind other bank frauds committed through other companies. This highlights the need for financial institutions to implement robust due diligence procedures and for individuals to be cautious while availing loans and other financial services.
Another case involves a Railways job scam where 28 people from Tamil Nadu were made to stand at different platforms of the New Delhi Railway Station for a month to count the arrival and departure of trains and their coaches. The victims had been told that this was part of their training for positions of travel ticket examiner (TTE), traffic assistants, and clerks. They had paid amounts ranging between INR 2 lakh and INR 24 lakh to get the jobs in the Railways department. This highlights the need for individuals to verify the authenticity of job offers and not fall prey to lucrative yet fraudulent schemes.
In yet another case, four people working in the MGNREGA department were booked for cheating, criminal breach, forgery, and hatching a conspiracy with common intent. They created duplicate job cards, opened accounts in other banks on job card holders’ names, created fake documents of beneficiaries, made payments into these accounts, and later withdrew the money. This case emphasizes the importance of strong internal controls and effective oversight to prevent fraudulent activities.
The digital age has also brought with it new forms of fraud, such as remote siphoning from bank accounts. Cybercriminals can steal sensitive data and trick people into giving access to their OTPs or other confidential information. In one such case, the victim had INR 37 lakhs stolen from his bank accounts within a span of 30 minutes, even though he had not shared any information with anyone. This highlights the need for individuals to be vigilant about sharing personal information and for banks to implement stronger authentication mechanisms.
In another case, a 28-year-old software engineer was duped of INR 50.87 lakh after falling victim to an investment scheme that promised high returns. The fraudsters threatened to fix him in a fake police case when he asked them to return his investment to clear his loan. This case highlights the importance of conducting due diligence before investing and not falling for unrealistic promises of high returns.
Lastly, a victim was duped by an online fraud syndicate, where she had received a text message regarding part-time earning opportunities. She had received small amounts of money in exchange for following some Instagram accounts, but soon after, she was added to a Telegram channel where a lot of supposed ‘prepaid tasks’ were posted. As a part of trust, she had already received payment for her earlier tasks and was convinced that she was dealing with honest people. She ended up sending a total of INR 13.68 lakhs to the fraudsters. This highlights the need for individuals to be cautious about responding to unsolicited messages and for verifying the authenticity of offers before transferring money.
In conclusion, it is clear that scams and frauds are rampant in various sectors, from banking and finance to employment and investments. With the rapid growth of technology, cybercriminals have found new ways to exploit innocent people and cheat them out of their hard-earned money. It is important to be vigilant and aware of these fraudulent activities to protect oneself from falling victim to these scams. One should always verify the authenticity of an offer or investment opportunity and never share personal or sensitive information with unknown individuals or organizations. Furthermore, it is the responsibility of the authorities to take strict action against the perpetrators of these fraudulent activities and ensure that justice is served. The consequences of these scams and frauds not only affect the victims but also have a larger impact on the economy and society as a whole. Therefore, it is crucial that we all take the necessary precautions to prevent and combat these fraudulent activities.
Fake loan fraud by the Director
Date: 23 December 2022
A money laundering case which involved fraud of around INR 7.6 crores. The Director cheated the Union Bank of India and availed a loan of Rs 23.73 crores by creating collateral security based on fabricated documents and diverted the loan proceedings for the purposes other than for which it was sanctioned. The main accused were the director of a company based out of Bangalore. According to ED, the main accused was a habitual offender and the mastermind behind other bank frauds committed through other companies namely Nexxoft Infotech Ltd and Ignis Technology Solutions Pvt. Ltd.
Date: 21 December 2022
Source: Samriddhi Tewari, The Hindu
28 people from Tamil Nadu were made to stand at different platforms of the New Delhi Railway Station every day for eight hours for a month to count the arrival and departure of trains and their coaches, unaware they were victims of an employment scam. They had been told that this was part of their training for positions of travel ticket examiner (TTE), traffic assistants and clerks, and each of them, paid amounts ranging between INR 2 lakh and INR 24 lakh to get the jobs in the Railways dept. For the one-month training, the victims were duped of INR 2.67 crore by a group of fraudsters.
Date: 21 December 2022
Place: Amreli, Gujarat
Ahmedabad: As per the "Comptroller Auditor General's" December 2021 audit report noted that more than INR 3 crore payment was made to third party. 4 accused belonged to MGNREGA Dept. and were working as Assistant programmer, Assistant Account Officer, MIS coordinator and technical assistant. From 2015-2019, the accused created duplicate job cards, opened accounts in other banks on job card holders’ names, created fake documents of beneficiaries, made payments into these accounts, and later withdrew the money. The accused have been booked for cheating, criminal breach, forgery and hatching conspiracy with common intent.
Remote Siphoning from Bank Accounts
Date: 12 December 2022
Place: New Delhi
Source: Surabhi Shaurya, India News
With evolving technology and everything going digital, the internet has become a hotspot for cybercriminals to steal money from bank accounts. They trick people and get their OTP or send phishing links to get access and steal sensitive data. In one case, the victim filed a complaint stating that the cybercriminals stole INR 37 lakhs from his bank accounts within a span of 30 minutes, though he had not shared the OTP or any other information with anyone. Investigations revealed, that the victim had received back-to-back money transaction messages while he was working in his office. The cybercriminal then withdrew his account and froze it for further transactions.
Techie lured by high returns investment fraud scam
Date: 07 December 2022
Source: Narayan Namoodiri, The Times of India
A 28-year-old software engineer was duped of INR 50.87 lakh after falling victim to an investment scheme. He was promised a return of 15% on his investment every month. The victim had taken a loan of INR 76.11 lakh in 2021 to invest in the scheme. The fraudsters had earned his trust when they credited his bank savings account with Rs 16,000 in the initial months for an investment of INR 1 lakh.Later, the fraudsters threatened to fix him in a fake police case when he asked them to return his investment to clear his loan. Interestingly, the fraudster after luring the victim with high returns also provided the source from where he could get a loan to invest in the scheme.
Duped by an online fraud syndicate
Date: 29 November 2022
Source: Telangana Today
The victim received a text message regarding part-time earning opportunities. She replied in the affirmative and was told that she would have to follow Instagram accounts in exchange for money, which she agreed to. Although the beginning was innocuous, with the complainant receiving small amounts of money in exchange for following some Instagram accounts. Soon, she was added to a Telegram channel, where a lot of supposed ‘prepaid tasks’ were posted. As a part of trust, as she had already received payment for her earlier tasks, she was convinced that she was dealing with honest people and hence started depositing various amounts of money in the accounts specified by the accused. When the victim’s account balance was exhausted, she started sending money from her mother’s account. She had sent a total of INR 13.68 lakhs. There were no signs of any new tasks or reimbursement. The lady was duped.
Trapped by online advertisement about “good” investment opportunities
Date: 28 November 2022
Source: The Print
A 28 year old employee of a Software company lost around INR 50.8 Lakh to a online advertisement about “good” investment opportunities. After clicking on the given advertisement, he uploaded his personal mobile number. On the very next day, he received a fictitious call. The fraudster claimed to be in a business of agricultural products such as seeds, fertilizers and other products. She told the victim that investing in this business would earn him 15% profit. As to gain profit, the victim did received his first interest of INR 16,000 after investing INR 1 Lakhs. Since he was getting a good return, the victim invested around INR 48 Lakhs. When he stopped getting the interest after a month, he waited for another month. Later, after demanding his money back; the fraudster asked him to pay more money. They also threatened him with a police complaint if he fails to reply. The victim then realized that he was being duped and approached the cyber police.
Date: 15 November 2022
Place: New Delhi
Source: The Times of India
Twenty people were arrested from three states for allegedly duping over 1,000 people in the garb of selling electric scooters. The victims were initially asked to make an online payment of INR 499 towards registration and were later told to transfer money for transportation and vehicle insurance, among others. After receiving the money, they told the victims that there would be a delay in delivery of the vehicles and fooled them.
Short term loans and investment scam running from China
Date: 14 November 2022
Source: Shayan Ghosh, The Mint
A FIR has been lodged against unknown persons for providing short-term loans and later, threatening them to recover the money by blackmailing the victims using morphed images. A total of 5-10 daily cases registration on the similar pattern led to draw a common modus operandi, which involved – While the loan duration would be for a period of 90 days, within seven to 10 days, the victims would start receiving threatning calls from international numbers with ISD codes showing to be that of Bangladesh, Nepal, Pakistan, etc. Morphed photos would be sent out to the victims, their family members, and friends to blackmail them for the money. The cyber cops have traced the host of such websites and apps to China and are working with Indian-Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) to take down such websites and apps.
Date: 12 November 2022
Source: Khaleej Times
Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) urged the general public and its stakeholders to be vigilant against fraud and scam attempts when the stock exchange noted that in certain cases fraudsters potentially pose as ADX or an ADX-licensed broker or members of its management team through email, website or social media channels to perpetrate a fraud on unsuspecting community members or stakeholders. ADX told to be extremely cautious of such behavior and report potential fraudulent scams, suspicious emails and phishing attempts involving the use of a false ADX identity (example logo, brand, name, signatures, marketing material, invoices, member of the ADX management team etc.) to the relevant authorities in the UAE or to your home country regulator. The ADX pointed out that the people must not respond to any unusual or suspicious communication or correspondence that they may receive, and refrain from entering into any agreement with unlicensed entities.
Loan fraud operated through medical store
Date: 09 November 2022
Call centre involving 11 people including 6 women were arrested for eligibility duping over 1700 people on the pretext of providing them loans. The call centre disguised as a medicines supply store being operated at Bal Udyan Road in Delhi. After analysing the registers, it was found that the accused had cheated more than 1700 people of over INR 10 crores. Further, it was revealed that the accused used to call the victims on the pretext of offering loans, share the bank account details and ask the clients to deposit the processing fees in that account.
International fake call centres and threats
Date: 10 October 2022
Source: Jaikishan Sharma
With the help of software like eyebeam/CRM, the fraudster used to make international calls. After this, they threatened to block or suspend social security numbers by accusing the victims of suspicious activities like breaking traffic rules, check bounces, drug taking, etc. In such a situation, the victim would request not to act. Using threats, the accused would ask the victims to send him a gift voucher through online websites for a commission of 40 to 50 per cent. Fraudster then withdrew this money as cash. The gang bought people’s data on the dark web. It contained names, addresses, mobile numbers, bank accounts and insurance policies, job profiles, personal loans, and family details. Later, internet calls were placed to those numbers. The fraudsters behaved in a way that made the victims believe that it was not a fake call. They opened fake call centres and hired unemployed youngsters. They were lured with a salary of INR 30,000 – 35,000 with an incentive of two to five dollars for every successful call.
Microsoft warnedagainst phishing attacks: ‘Lazarus attack’
Date: 30 September 2022
Source: Liam Tung, ZDNet
Microsoft warned that hackers were using open source software and bogus social media accounts to dupe software engineers and IT support staff with fake job offers that in reality lead to malware attacks. A phishing-happy hacking crew linked to North Korea's armed forces were using trojanized open-source apps and LinkedIn recruitment bait to hit tech industry employees. The hacking group targeted employees in media, defence and aerospace, and IT services in the US, UK, India, and Russia.
Date: 28 September 2022
Source: Dia Rekhi, The Economic Times
A threat actor called Leak Base shared a database containing Personal Identifiable Information (PII) such as email addresses, hashed passwords, User ID etc. belonging 16 million users of the Swachh City platform — swachh.city. As personal details such as phone numbers and email addresses were advertised for sale, there was a strong possibility of it being used against the users which the data belongs so. This data can be leveraged by other threat actors to conduct cyber-attacks such as phishing, smishing, social engineering, and even attempt identity theft.
Tamil Nadu tatkal ticket booking scam
Date: 27 September 2022
Place: Tiruchirappalli, Tamil Nadu
Source: Archana R, News 18 blog
A Tatkal ticket booking scam was unearthed which reportedly cost the Indian Railways (IR) a whopping INR 56 Crores. A 26-year-old graduate was fraudulently selling tatkal tickets on an allegedly purchased domain name from the Godaddy website. During investigation, it was revealed that he had distributed the fake software to gangs involved in counterfeiting so that they could book tatkal tickets via the IR website. Through his international contacts, he had also purchased software's Sharp, BMX Plus, Nexus, Tesla and many others and sold them to agents to carry out fraudulent bookings.
Fake job racket and physical torture: lucrative IT jobs in Thailand
Date: 25 September 2022
Source: The Tribune
Instances of fake job rackets offering lucrative jobs to entice Indian youths for the posts of ‘Digital Sales and Marketing Executives’ in Thailand by dubious IT firms involved in the