In search of good returns, many fall victim to bogus trading apps

‘8 cases of people losing money by investing in fake apps were reported in city this year alone’
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only. (Express Illustration)

KOCHI: More and more people in the city are falling into the trap of fraudsters who operate bogus applications and social media platforms promising high returns on the share market.

On February 21, Palarivattom police registered a case after a businessman lost Rs 1.86 crore after being lured into downloading a fake trading app. The investigation revealed a nationwide network. It was a month earlier that the victim received a WhatsApp call from a person claiming to be from the customer care of Angel Bok, a subsidiary of broking firm Angel One. The victim was presented with an attractive investment scheme offering guaranteed returns.

“The victim downloaded the app and started investing in stocks through it. In one month, the victim made 11 investments worth Rs 1.86 crore. The money was transferred to bank accounts in Kolkata, Indore, Kanpur and Nashik. However, when the victim tried to claim some profits, the transaction failed,” a police officer said.

In a similar instance, a Ranni native residing in Panampilly Nagar lost Rs 36.2 lakh on a trading app. Ernakulam South police registered a case on February 22 and have started investigating.

“In January, the victim was added to a WhatsApp group, where several persons testified to earning high profits through stock trading. This persuaded him to invest in shares. He downloaded an app via a link provided on the WhatsApp group and started trading activity. He made three transactions through the app. However, the cheating came to light when he attempted to retrieve the invested money on January 25. Despite the option in the app to transfer the profit to the user’s bank account, it was not functional,” a police officer said.

Officers with the cyber cell said as many as eight cases of people losing money by investing in fake apps have been reported in Kochi this year alone.

“A similar pattern is adopted in all cases. Victims are lured to download apps through calls or WhatsApp messages. Interestingly, the money invested by victims goes to multiple bank accounts spread across the country. What we do is freeze the accounts to which money has been transferred as soon as the matter is reported to us. If victims are lucky, they will get back the money. It all depends on funds remaining in the frozen accounts,” an officer said.

However, in most cases, fraudsters re-route the money deposited by victims within minutes. These bank accounts will be in the names of various persons. “Mostly, the money deposited by victims is converted into cryptocurrency, and the trail will end there. This money is then moved to a foreign country. We have had cases in which the involvement of Chinese firms was revealed,” the officer added.

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The New Indian Express