11 men were caught by the Delhi Police Cyber Cell after they managed to cheat people out of Rs 150 crore with an app listed on Google’s Play Store
Delhi Police Cyber Cell has arrested 11 men after they managed to cheat people of Rs 150 crore using a fake app on the Google Play Store for Android according to a report by The Indian Express. At the time of this writing, the app is still available on the Play Store and can be downloaded officially through Google’s app portal.
What did they do?
The app spews jargon of lucrative return on investments at attractive rates. They roped customers in using the app and with a promised return rate of 5%-10% on the investment amount. Once they had managed to garner interest from potential investors, they would take their money and go silent. They even blocked the user accounts.
The scam was run from various parts of Delhi-NCR and Bengal. Two of the accused were charted accountants who had created more than 110 shell companies for their ‘partners’ and later sold these companies to Chinese nationals for Rs 2 to 3 lakh each.
One of the accused claimed that he was contacted by these Chinese nationals with a request for a bank account. He operated more than 29 banks and oversaw all of the fund transfers.
The owners of the app would also randomly approach people on Telegram, WeChat and Dingtalk to acquire shell companies to hide the money trail. The app’s link would then be forwarded to potential victims on WhatsApp with made-up investment schemes and improbable return rates.
How were they caught?
The Delhi Police Cyber Cell received complaints on social media about two apps on the Play Store in particular, Power Bank and EZ Plan. Some users claimed that they had lost lakhs of rupees. The Power Bank app was trending on the Play Store with thousands of downloads.
The app’s owner’s were traced to China and they were working with perpetrators in India to set up shell companies and bank accounts in the country.
One of the officer’s then posed as a customer and invested a token amount. The money trail was then traced to the accused.
The lesson to be learnt here
Never under any circumstances share your bank account details with someone or invest in something without doing proper research.
As another rule, if something sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. Especially, in these times when it is really easy to start a scam. Never, ever download unauthorised APK files that someone sends you and given how easily this app was available on Google’s official platform, you should probably start questioning that too.
Look for details such as the owners of the app and try to find out a little more about them. In fact, this whole situation brings to light just how easy it is to get conned on Google’s Play Store.