New Delhi: “Dear user… your KYC expired today. Please call 9********* to update immediately. Visit this link to update your KYC. Your number will be blocked.“It starts with this message, containing a link that leads to a collection of phishing pages and apps – and soon you will find your money being siphoned off.
Delhi Police’s Intelligence Fusion and Strategic Operations (IFSO) unit has busted a pan-Indian gang that allegedly looted money from more than 8,000 victims across India. Police have arrested 23 people so far.
The gang allegedly operated by obtaining people’s online banking credentials under the guise of updating their know-your-customer (KYC) information with the State Bank of India (SBI), using an imitation of SBI’s Yono app. , launched in 2017.
Once you fill in your details on the phishing app, fraudsters can access all the information, as well as one-time passwords (OTPs). They can then transfer funds from the victim’s account to another set of bank accounts and split the money between them.
Sources said they suspected the total amount lost was more than Rs 20 crore. “An average victim was looted around Rs 25,000. Some of the victims also lost more than a lakh,” a senior Delhi police officer said.
“After technical analysis of the links sent by the victims, hosting of the links, analysis of mobile calls, the financial trail was carried out. It has been revealed that they are operating in a very organized manner from various locations scattered all over India,” said KPS Malhotra, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), IFSO.
“Their hideouts in Surat, Kolkata, Girdih, Jamtara, Dhanbad and Delhi NCR have been identified. On March 25, coordinated raids were carried out in these places after reconnaissance,” the DCP said.
“This was done after we noticed during a technical analysis that the mobile phones and other fingerprints of the defendants had disappeared from radar at the same time, so if one of the defendants had been apprehended, the others would have become untraceable. “, he added.
Fifty-eight cell phones, 12 laptops, 20 debit cards and 202 SIM cards were recovered from those arrested. The devices are currently undergoing forensic examination and, so far, 820 pre-existing complaints have been linked to those arrested, police said.
The 23 arrested are: Pawan Mandal, Tinku Kumar Mandal, Chotu Kumar Mandal, Sandeep Mandal, Ramjeet Mandal, Birender Mandal, Sushil Kumar Mandal, Ravi Kumar Mandal, Sanjeet Kumar, Raj Kishor Mandal, Vikas Kumar Mandal, Mahender Mandal, Shankar Kumar Mandal, Pappu Kumar Mandal, Kuldeep Mandal, Pramod Kumar, Binod Kumar, Neeraj Sharma, Tinku Kumar Mandal, Umesh Kumar Mandal, Rajender Mandal and Sanjay Kumar Mandal.
According to the police, the gang hosted phishing pages on various platforms such as ngrok – used to expose an app running locally on the internet – and targeted people by mass texting which led to the fake “Yono” app. .
Once the account holder filled in their credentials, the accused would then log into the person’s account and siphon large sums of money from other bank accounts created by them. The money would then be withdrawn from different locations immediately.
“Upon receipt of various complaints, SBI management was contacted and a joint investigation was conducted. Once the data was obtained, the investigation team began a detailed investigation and an FIR was filed with the special cell said Malhotra.
Over 100 such complaints were found, including 51 from Delhi.
According to police, the gang operated in six modules – one to create and host the phishing links, another to acquire fake SIM cards, which the third module would use to send the links and place calls to the targets, asking them to insert their OTP into the fraudulent application.
The fourth would then simultaneously log into the target’s online bank account and transfer money to fake bank accounts. The fifth module was responsible for organizing these fake accounts and the sixth took out the money.
(Edited by Rohan Manoj)
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