Hyderabad: ED attaches Rs 32.34 cr in 580 bank accounts in part-time jobs scam case

Hyderabad Desk

Hyderabad: The Directorate of Enforcement (ED), Hyderabad has provisionally attached Rs. 32.34 crore lying as a balance in 580 bank accounts under the provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA), 2002 in a case relating to a part-time job scam in the guise of review and ratings of websites, hotels, resorts, etc.

The ED initiated an investigation based on an FIR registered by the PS Cyber Crime, Hyderabad under various sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act and IPC, 1860 against unknown persons.

“During the investigation, it was revealed that more than 50 related FIRs have been registered at various police stations spread across the country about the part-time job scam,” said ED officials.

ED investigation revealed that cyber scamsters would approach gullible persons on Whatsapp and Telegram apps and lure them by offering part-time jobs by performing simple tasks of giving 5-star ratings to tourist websites, hotels, resorts, tourist destinations, etc. with daily income ranging between Rs. 1000-Rs 1500.

Modus operandi

“The scamsters used to collect basic details and ask the victims to join certain Whatsapp and Telegram groups using links provided by them, where the associates of scamsters would speak highly of the jobs and post thanks messages showing high income for gaining the trust of the victims. The victims would then be asked to register on bogus websites/Android apps using their basic details including bank account numbers,” the officials added.

The ED officials explained that the scamsters would even offer e-money/tokens worth Rs. 10,000 on the e-wallets on bogus websites and apps to lure them further.

The victims were asked to deposit money to various bank accounts to top up their online wallets and start working. The wallet balance would get exhausted with every task set. The commission/ earnings were initially allowed to be withdrawn to the bank accounts to gain trust.

Later, the agents on Whatsapp/Telegram would coerce the victims to deposit additional money to work more and earn more.

During the tasks of providing ratings, random pop-ups would appear with premium tasks carrying higher commission/ rewards but requiring more deposits, leading to negative wallet balances. Victims were then asked to top up their wallets to continue the ratings tasks.

In case of non-payment, the wallet balances were frozen and could not be withdrawn. The premium tasks would pop up more often requiring additional deposits from victims and the ones who could not pay would be coerced to anyhow deposit the money failing which their entire wallet balance would be forfeited.

Despite completing all tasks, when the victims tried to withdraw money reflected in their online wallets, the transactions would be declined citing various random reasons and asking for depositing more money as a refundable withdrawal fee.

Scamsters based out of the UAE

Even after some victims deposited such fees, the withdrawals could not be made and the Whatsapp agents would stop communicating.

The main masterminds of the scam operated the bank accounts sitting in UAE and had already collected a large number of bank account kits containing internet banking credentials, debit cards and chequebooks with related SIM cards sourced from several middlemen who got the bank accounts opened in the names of shell entities using fake/forged documents or obtained such kits for commission.

ED investigation revealed that the scamsters collected more than Rs. 524 Crore in more than 175 bank accounts, used only for a brief period ranging from 1-15 days and the money would be regularly diverted to other accounts.

The money trailing revealed that the scam money collected in these 175 bank accounts was transferred to more than 480 bank accounts and used mainly for purchasing cryptocurrencies, making hawala payments in India and remitting abroad in the guise of import payments, officials maintained.

Further investigation is under progress.

Also Read