The Delhi Police have arrested three persons in the state of Bihar for running a scam in collusion with several Pakistani nationals. The gang duped people in various parts of India using the famous Kaun Banega Crorepati (Who wants to be a millionaire) programme-based lottery, police said.
The group is believed to have affected scores of people across the country.
According to the police, the three accused have been identified as Imtiaz Ali, Irfan Ali, and Santosh Kumar, all residents of Bihar.
“We had received a complaint in which the complainant alleged that she received a WhatsApp call from a Pakistani number and the caller informed her that she has won a Kaun Banega Crorepati lottery worth INR 2.5 million ($33,900)", said Anyesh Roy, deputy commissioner of police (Cyber Crime).
In the complaint, the victim claimed she was asked by the caller to call another Pakistani number via WhatsApp and talk to one Rana Pratap Singh who would share the details with her.
“The victim fell in the trap and the scammers on the pretext of GST charges, processing fees, etc. induced her to deposit several thousand rupees in several Indian bank accounts. Later on, they told her that the lottery amount had been increased and hence, she would need to deposit more money towards the taxes and other things", Roy said.
During the investigation, it came to light that the scammers made the victim destroy all the deposit slips, WhatsApp call and chat records so as to get rid of any evidence as well as to avoid being caught, police said.
“Our team identified the bank accounts and the money trail was closely studied. It revealed the involvement of dozens of bank accounts. Extensive technical investigation was taken up and the Indian associates of the Pakistan-based elements were tracked down to the area of Gopalganj in Bihar".
“Using the most advanced digital investigation techniques, the photographs of the Pakistani nationals running the entire operation were also obtained and their location traced to Islamabad", police officer Roy said.
During interrogation, the three revealed that they had joined the ongoing lottery racket a year ago while they were in Delhi.
“Last year in March, they had come to Delhi looking for jobs and were staying in the Batla House, Jamia Nagar area of Delhi when they got to know about the scam being run from Pakistan and some of their friends/acquaintances were already associated with it. They also got in touch with the main person namely Rauf, a resident of Islamabad, Pakistan, through Imo App and started working with him. They used to provide Rauf with logistical support in the form of different bank accounts, usually locally sourced for a commission", Roy revealed.
The police further said as soon as the money was received in the bank accounts, Rauf would get the accused in touch with some hawala (money laundering) operators and the accused persons would hand over the money to the said operator after keeping 25-30 percent for themselves.
The rest of the money would then be transferred to Rauf through hawala channels that are now being probed and efforts are being made to identify the operators, police said.