The Delhi Police's Cyber Cell has busted a transnational malware and fraud syndicate, cheating unsuspecting people with offers of lucrative returns on an online multi-level marketing campaign, and arrested 12 including two Chinese and a Tibetan national, police said on Friday.
Police said that the accused were installing malware in devices of people in the garb of an MLM app.
In a series of raids that started on January 13, a total of 12 persons have been arrested, including two women Chinese nationals -- Chaohong Deng Daoyong, 27, and Wu Jiazhi, 54.
Around 40,000 confirmed victims have been identified who have been cheated of crores in 2 months. An amount of Rs 4.75 crore of cheated money has been blocked in various accounts and more than Rs 25 lakh recovered in cash from arrested Chinese nationals.
How the scam works?
"The malicious app was also making millions of Indian users follow thousands of social media accounts of unknown origin and ownership, with huge potential of future misuse of this following by a foreign entity," DCP, Crime Crime, Anyesh Roy said.
The arrested Indian accused have disclosed that two Chinese nationals -- Yangqing Zhang and Bao Peng -- are the main kingpins of this huge criminal conspiracy to cheat and defraud Indian citizens and hack into their devices through malicious mobile apps.
These two are likely to be operating from a foreign location outside India. They launched this 'online scheme' to induce and cheat maximum number of people by promising lucrative returns based on multi-level marketing model.
In the garb of this scheme, they designed and circulated malware to illegally capture personal data of unsuspecting people for illegitimate purposes. They also created mega social media influencers in a clandestine manner, by promising cash incentive for 'Follows' and 'Likes', on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. The origin and ownership of majority of these Facebook, YouTube and Instagram accounts is unknown.
"These profiles can be used in future by external elements to manipulate and influence Indian users who follow these accounts," Roy added.
The DCP advised: "Never download and install any app through links sent over WhatsApp with promises of quick money. These apps are not verified and listed by genuine app store/Play Store and may undertake malicious activities. If any such app has been downloaded, the same may be got uninstalled at the earliest."
(With inputs from IANS)