MHA’s financial wing busts pan-India ‘Fraud-to-Phone’ scam, 8 arrested

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New Delhi, Jun15 (UNI) The Union Home Ministry’s ‘Financial Coordination Group (FCORD),in a joint operation by central and state police agencies has busted a pan-India ‘Fraud-to-Phone scam while eight masterminds have been arrested and over 350 persons are under scanner.

Soon after a case of cyber fraud of Rs 6.5 lakh was reported on June 11 by a 78 year old Udaipur resident to Cyber Safe in which the Fraud to Phone (F2P) caller was operating from Jharkhand, the FCORD and other agencies swung into action and tracking via the FCORD-run CyberSafe app revealed that the funds were directly credited to three SBI cards, which were used to buy 33 expensive China-made Xiaomi POCO M3 mobile phones from Flipkart.

“Within minutes the addresses where these were delivered in Balaghat (MP) were identified and the Balaghat Superintendent of Police was informed and the fraudster was caught with all 33 new phones and several more were seized from him. The F2P gang bought these phones for about Rs.10,000 each and sold them in the black market for 5-10 percent discount while the Jharkhand police has arrested the F2P caller”, the investigators said.

This F2P Gang had several hundred operatives who were running different legs of the transactions which involved OTP fraud, Credit Cards frauds, e-Commerce frauds, fake IDs, fake mobile numbers, fake addresses, black marketing, tax evasion, money laundering and habitually dealing with stolen goods, Home Ministry officials said.

In all, eight F2P Gang masterminds, two from Madhya Pardesh, four in Jharkhand and two in Andhra Pradesh have been arrested and nearly 300 new mobile phones bought from stolen funds seized, the officials further said.

Further, 900 cell phones, 1000 bank accounts and hundreds of UPI and e-commerce IDs of this gang were identified and are under investigation, while nearly 100 bank accounts and debit /credit cards were frozen. The operation against the F2P Gang has expanded to 18 States and 350 persons now and has been going on, they added.

The accused are also being questioned for reasons for preference of China made phones, especially those made by Xiaomi, the officials added.

The FCORD was started as a special coordination group by the MHA to share intelligence among the different central and state security agencies to counter the problem of circulation of fake currency in the country. But its mandate was expanded to frauds and terror financing.

CyberSafe is an app created by FCORD, operative from August 2019. It links more than 3,000 Law Enforcement Authorities (LEAs), including police stations, in 19 States/UTs with 18 fin tech entities online and in real-time and fraudster’s mobile numbers are the key to CyberSafe. As soon as a victim informs the police, the information is entered on CyberSafe and in realtime, fund flows are identified and communicated.

Till now 65,000 phone frauds were reported on this app and 55,000 phone numbers and several thousand bank accounts of fraudsters identified. Soon, the National Payment Corporation of India(NPCI) will be integrating with CyberSafe, expanding the ambit of realtime prevention of cyber crime to the UPI domain, thereby amplifying its success in crime prevention, manifold.

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