Odisha Crime Branch Issues Advisory As Online Investment Fraud Becomes Rampant

Bhubaneswar: The Criminal Investiagtion Department (CID) of Odisha Crime Branch has issued an important advisory to protect citizens from falling prey to the rampant rise in online investment fraud cases.

In recent times, there has been a steep and concerning rise in cases of fraud through online investment apps. WhatsApp group link, telegram group line etc. Many people have lost money by investing in such fake online schemes. Fraudsters are luring people in the name of high returns in a short time with investments in stock markets, shares Mutual Funds and IPO allotments. Most of these investors have lost their hard-earned savings. Exploiting the trust and greed of these people, online investment fraudsters have caused them devastating financial losses.

Cases registered:

In the year 2023, a total of 22 investment fraud cases were registered by the CID CB Cyber Crime PS, involving nearly 8.5 crores in fraudulent amounts. Alarmingly, within just four months of 2024, a total of 25 more cases have been registered, with fraud amounts totalling to approximately Rs. 17 crores. Though the Cyber Crime Wing of CID CB has been able to arrest many of the criminals in the registered cases, however, very less amount of money could be recovered from them as compared to the losses incurred by victims, as the money has already already used by these criminals or, in some cases, siphoned off outside the country.

Modus Operandi of fraudsters:

Fraudsters operate by first inducing individuals to join WhatsApp and Telegram groups promising high returns on investments in a short duration. These groups are populated by their gang members, who make innocent people believe by claiming to have profited from the suggested investments. The fraudsters claim that the investments are made into SEBI-registered and verified companies by using genuine photographs of industrialists or bankers to gain the confidence of the victim.
However, the investment platforms recommended are fraudulent, and designed to display fake returns and wallet money. When victims attempt to withdraw their funds, they are compelled into depositing more amounts for withdrawal, further pushing the victims in a cycle of fraud and financial losses.

It’s noteworthy that the accounts utilized by the fraudsters are often mole or hired. Funds received from victims are often converted into USD, then into Bitcoin and ultimately withdrawn at various locations outside the country, including Dubai, China and Hong Kong. WhatsApp and Telegram channels used in these activities are often operated from locations such as Cambodia and Hong Kong.

Safety Tips for the general public:

CID-CB urges the public to exercise extreme caution when engaging in online investment activities and to carefully verify the authenticity of entities offering financial services. In recent years, there has been a concerning increase in cases of investment fraud, with perpetrators often utilizing WhatsApp or Telegram groups to carry out their scams. These groups often promise unrealistic returns and encourage individuals to deposit money into suggested accounts.

For the safety of their investments, citizens are strongly advised to use only genuine and authorized applications and websites for investment opportunities such as IPOs, stocks, mutual funds, etc. People need to be careful of unrealistic promises of high returns and scrutinize investment opportunities thoroughly before making any investments. By remaining vigilant and following these safety guidelines, individuals can safeguard their money and protect themselves from falling victim to online investment fraud.

CID-CB appeals to citizens to spread the word with their family and friends’ groups especially among elderly people who might be lured by the fraudsters into investing their hard-earned money and lifetime savings into such fake online investment groups. If citizens come across any suspicious online activities or become victims of cyber-related crimes, they should report such incidents promptly to the 1930 toll-free call centre.

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