June 16, 2024

A resident of Mohammadwadi area fell victim to a deceptive scheme in January that promised substantial returns on investments. She observed the operations of a WhatsApp group filled with ostensible success tales of significant earnings through equities, into which she was added post interest expression. She started trading using a mobile application, found to be fraudulent later, after receiving an initial capital of Rs 10,000.

Unfortunate was the woman who was defrauded, making 30 separate payments, amounting to Rs 3.04 crore, to 12 diverse bank accounts in a month. The application duped her by displaying an exponential rise in her profits to Rs 20.66 crore. When she attempted to withdraw her earnings, the criminals demanded a 30 per cent share in her alleged profits as “charity” and another 10 per cent as “service charges.” Upon realizing the fraud, she approached Pune’s Cyber Crime Police Station and lodged a First Information Report (FIR) last week.

This case isn’t an isolated incident but rather a reflection of a broader surge in digital trading scams as outlined by cybercrime investigators from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad police. The police have labelled these increases in fraud cases as an epidemic. In a similar case, a Pune-based Chartered Accountant was swindled out of Rs 3.4 crore. The fraudsters used a deceptive WhatsApp group named after a British financial firm to lure their victims with high returns from advanced trading techniques. They used terms like “block trade” and “upper circuit trading”, leading the accountant to owe over Rs 2 crore to various banks because of the fraud.

The Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued a cautionary note on February 26 in response to the recurring frequency of such scams. The notice cautioned potential investors against con artists who claim to be registered with SEBI and misuse social media to promote their schemes. The objective of this advisory is to nip the growing financial scams in the bud and shield potential investors from similar pitfalls.

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