The Rourkela police have recently apprehended six members of an international online crime syndicate on Friday, marking a major breakthrough in the world of cybersecurity and online fraud. According to preliminary investigation reports, the police have discovered that the syndicate victimized ordinary citizens across India, duping them of at least ₹15 crore. This sophisticated cross-border gang has posed a significant challenge to law enforcement due to its complex web of operations across diverse geographical territories.
The investigation, spearheaded by subdivisional police officer Upasana Padhi, led to the arrest of six individuals located in Rourkela, Bhilai, Raipur (Chhattisgarh), and Ludhiana (Punjab). It was the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) that connected more than 210 complaints from various regions in India to this organized criminal network. The modus operandi of the syndicate was to carry out deceptive transactions through Binance, a well-known cryptocurrency exchange, where transfers amounted to US $30,000 tether (~ ₹24.93 lakh).
Initial suspicions were raised when a central government officer was swindled of ₹67.7 lakh, prompting the Cyber Police Station in Rourkela to launch an investigation on December 30. Furthermore, the police established that the case had strong ties to an intricate international crime syndicate, prompting them to form a task force on January 2. Technical support from the I4C and the state crime branch played an integral role in pushing the investigation forward.
These criminal activities have persisted for over a year, indicating the network’s deep-seated roots in perpetrating sophisticated cybercrimes. The core members of the gang, mostly Indians, included Ujjwal (who had a hand in creating a betting app and frequently traveled to countries like Dubai, Cambodia, and Sri Lanka), Pankaj Rao, Sandeep Joshi, and Mohammed Nassem. The mastermind behind the criminal organization, a foreign national referred to as “lady boss” by the apprehended suspects, is still at large. According to Padhi, various pieces of evidence and recorded voice messages have been obtained from the accused persons’ phones, which may help in tracking down the elusive ringleader.
As the investigation unfolds, the Rourkela police are collaborating with the Central Bureau of Investigation to engage with Interpol and seek the arrest of the mastermind who is believed to be located abroad. The extent of the international connection of the syndicate is a matter of concern. The gang’s deceptive strategies included establishing a clone of Indira Securities, a certified and legitimate entity, to lure unsuspecting victims into fraudulent investment schemes. Additionally, the syndicate operated a fake call center in Cambodia using foreign nationals who were coerced into working for the gang under false pretenses.
The apprehended individuals, including Joshi, were implicated in the procurement and transportation of 200 SIM cards to Cambodia, raising questions about their role in furthering the syndicate’s criminal activities. Many bank accounts used by the gang have been identified, and efforts are underway to ascertain the connections between these accounts and mule accounts or members of the criminal network. Steps have also been taken to solicit information from Meta, the parent company of popular social media applications, as concerns over the syndicate’s advertisement strategies on these platforms have emerged.
The ongoing investigation is characterized by a relentless pursuit of the truth, with police devoted to uncovering the finer details of the crime ring’s operations. There have been significant developments in obtaining crucial evidence from financial institutions, technological platforms, and other sources that should aid in dismantling the syndicate. The Rourkela police’s commitment to data privacy and the protection of online users is evident in their proactive approach to curb the activities of this nefarious criminal network.
Overall, the investigation’s significance lies in its capacity to safeguard the financial interests and digital security of individuals who fell victim to intricate cybercrimes. The swift action taken by the Rourkela police reflects their determination to hold accountable those responsible for orchestrating large-scale financial frauds and deceiving innocent people. The impact of these arrests underscores the need for strengthened cybersecurity measures and interagency cooperation to combat the ever-evolving threat of online criminal activities. The road ahead may be challenging, but the resolve of law enforcement agencies to confront this issue remains unyielding.