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The cyber crime division of the Mumbai Police has busted an online ring that used to dupe people in the name of "exclusive" dating services. Five people have been arrested following complaints that they duped a couple of thousand people into paying lakhs of rupees to join the exclusive dating websites.

Also read: Delhi: 62-year-old man arrested for running high-profile sex racket; Uzbek woman rescued

The police also said they have shut down three websites through which the racket was running its fraudulent operations. They seized 16 hard disks, 300 mobile SIM cards, three laptops and 37 mobile phones from the accused, who have been identified as Mohd Shakib Abdul Malik Caotwala (24), Girish Harbansh Jaiswal (33), Kamal Suresh Vishwakarma (31), Arjun Ramprakash Kanoujia (28) and Sharif Afzal Ahmad Khan (24).

Modus operandi

The racket used to run three websites through which they offered people access to "exclusive online dating." The customers were asked to pay around Rs 1,000 through Paytm to access the service. After payment, the clients were given a phone number to call up. It would soon become apparent to them that they had been duped because no one would answer the phone. 

The police have been quoted by agencies as saying: "The registration fees paid by the customer used to get transferred into the bank account of a jeweller from the same area [as where the racket was running from: Masjid Bunder in South Mumbai]. The customers later used to realise that they have been duped."

The capture

The police, upon investigating the matter after receiving repeated complaints, found that while the Paytm number was constantly changing, the recipient of the funds was the same: the jeweller. They said: "The operator of the sex website used to send his man to the jeweller, where he used to give gold coins of the amounts in exchange of money which he has received in the form of membership fees."

It was when a member of the racket was on one such errand on Tuesday that he was arrested by the police. The cops subsequently raided three more places — including the call centre from where this racket was being run — and arrested more people.