A city businessman who had booked a flight ticket from Visakhapatnam to Kolkata and was trying to bring the trip forward unwittingly logged into a fraudulent website which he found via an Internet search engine and lost Rs 5.98 lakh.
Of the money swindled out of the businessman, Rs 4.14 lakh was used to purchase “digital gold” directly from the businessman’s account. Before he could react, the digital gold was sold and the money was credited to another bank account.
Police said they had arrested a man named Anas Aslam, in whose account the Rs 4.14 lakh was credited, on Wednesday. Alam was picked up from his Keshab Chandra Sen Street home in north Kolkata.
Two mobile phones with SIM cards were seized from him, an officer said.
The alleged mastermind of the racket, Maksud Ansari, was arrested at a place near Deoghar in Jharkhand on April 28.
No money has been recovered yet.
“The fraud was reported in December last year when the complainant, who runs his business from an office on Russel Street, said he was trying to advance his trip by logging into a website but lost Rs 5.98 lakh instead,” said an officer of the cybercrime cell of Kolkata police.
The officer said the fraudsters had done “search engine optimisation” to manipulate the results of the search engine and place the fraudulent links above the genuine link to increase the probability of people clicking a fraudulent link.
“Once he had clicked the fraudulent link, he found a mobile number provided in the link. On calling that number, he was asked to download an app on his phone,” the officer said.
The app helped the fraudsters gain remote access to his phone and Rs 5.98 lakh was debited from his account.
During the investigation, the police found that of the Rs 5.98 lakh that was siphoned off from the businessman’s account, Rs 4.14 lakh was used to buy digital gold. Procuring digital gold is a form of investment in which the buyer may not physically possess the metal. Digital gold can be sold online or converted into physical gold when needed.
“In this case, the digital gold that was purchased with the complainant’s money was sold online and the money was credited to another bank account,” said a senior officer at Lalbazar.
“It is apparent that the fraudsters wanted to divert the law agencies by creating multiple layers of transactions between the complainant’s bank account and the account where the money was finally credited.”
- While booking tickets online, the first link a search engine throws up may not be of a genuine website
- Any website with the word “Ad” mentioned in it should be avoided
- Genuine websites usually do not have a mobile number as their “customer care” number
- Do not transfer money to an individual’s bank account