KOCHI: In yet another muti-crore cyber fraud, Porinju Veliyath, an acclaimed stock investor and founder of Equity Intelligence, a Portfolio Management Service (PMS) firm, has approached police after multiple social media accounts impersonated his identity and siphoned off money from investors.
Veliyath suspects that an organised racket is behind the cyber fraud. According to him, last month his team came to know about an advertisement circulated on Facebook stating that he is providing advisory service to people on investing in appropriate stocks.
He soon reported the matter to the National Cyber Crime Portal, Police and the stockmarket regular SEBI. His firm is only into Portfolio Management Services and Alternative Investment Funds.
"Recently, a retired government employee in Aluva contacted us claiming that he lost Rs 30 lakhs after investing money in equity via a WhatsApp group started in my name. Then we started receiving numerous calls informing about investments made as directed through WhatsApp groups in my name and carrying my profile picture," Veliyath said.
In another incident, a Kochi native lost Rs two lakhs after following a similar WhatsApp group, he stated.
"So we suspect that numerous persons have been cheated through impersonation targetting me," he added.
According to Veliyath, his team could trace around 60 such fake WhatsApp groups operational using his name and picture. In some groups, the admin is named as Asiya Rani. Some of these groups were charging Rs 5000-Rs 10,000 for membership.
"Seeing my name, people are lured to the group. Then they give a link by which they can deposit money to a set of bank accounts. It is learnt that an artificial trading terminal is provided to people investing money through fake groups. In the terminal, they witness various trading activities. But they cannot withdraw their investment from it," he said.
Veliyath first filed a complaint with the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. There he was advised to approach the local police station. As per the direction, he filed a complaint at Ernakulam South Police Station.
"Police are yet to file an FIR into the incident. We also gave the Police some numbers used for starting these fake WhatsApp groups. They attempted to contact these numbers but could not succeed. Police have promised that an investigation will be conducted into the incident. The Aluva native who lost Rs 30 lakh also has approached police and a case is registered at Aluva Police Station," he said.
According to Veliyath, he tried to spread awareness against impersonation and cheating through his Twitter account. Similarly, last year cryptocurrency trading fraudsters made a similar attempt using Veliyath's name.
"As several fake WhatsApp groups are operating, we are apprehensive that several people might have lost their money in the scam. We want police to conduct an active probe into the incident and unearth the racket behind it. Every investor in the country should be careful about such cyber fraud as other Portfolio Management companies also faced similar issues recently," he said.