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PUNE: A chartered accountant from Baner lost Rs3 crore between Jan and Feb this year after he fell for high returns on investment bait online.

In a similar case, an officer from the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, lost Rs57.2 lakh between Feb 19 and March 23. Similarly, a housewife from Ganeshkhind Road lost Rs47 lakh, and three other software engineers collectively lost Rs92.5 lakh.

The FIRs in all the six cases were registered by the police in the last 48 hours.

Cybercrooks have lured victims with unreasonably high returns in online share trading in a string of incidents, police said.

“A common thread is the use of an online screen platform that the crooks manipulate to make the investors believe that their investment is on track,” a Pune cyber police officer told TOI.

The statistics provided by the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad police show a huge spike in online share trading frauds, from 53 cases in 2023 to 204 cases in the first three months of 2024.

“This is an exceptional rise at a time when people are exploring investment options. The share market is often one of them. The suspects are exploiting the tendency among the victims to make easy money,” Shailesh Balkawade, additional commissioner of police (crime), said.

Balkawade explained that the number of such financial cheatings has increased post-Covid as people hear stories from others of making money in the share market, and even when they do not have knowledge of the share market.

Many people run online searches regarding share trading and get trapped in such frauds.

“Our investigations revealed that the fraudsters were using servers based in foreign countries. The main conspirators are planting money moles and local poor people with bank accounts, and these bank accounts are misused to get the victims to transfer money. We are establishing the money trail in all such cases. All the cases have taken place outside the ambit of the SEBI, and hence victims cannot even claim any refund,” a senior officer said.

“Fraudsters are using scripted messages on online platforms to lure victims. We are seeking details about these fraudsters from the messaging application offices. The crooks initially invest money using their accounts, where a profit is shown. We are trying to get transactional details as well,” Sandip Gadiya, who specialises in cybercrime probes, said.

“We have clubbed the CA and the housewife’s complaints together as the same online platform was used to cheat them,” Meenal Patil, senior inspector (cyber police), said.

  • Published On Mar 27, 2024 at 12:48 PM IST

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