Probe under way into fraudulent social media investment mobilisation schemes

The district- and State-level special squads formed under senior police officers have begun investigation into a series of cyber crimes in which multiple social media accounts were used by a gang of youngsters to woo potential investors into fraudulent investment schemes.

Efforts are on to track suspicious Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp accounts which were used to send spam hyperlinks to the targeted individuals and prompt fund transfers promising them high returns for their investments.

According to police sources, a majority of suspects who worked as agents for anonymous operators behind the fraudulent online financial schemes are youngsters below the age of 25. Some of them, including Kozhikode natives, have already been nabbed as part of the continuing investigation, they said.

The action comes in the wake of a few written petitions submitted by some cheated investors to the high-tech crime inquiry cell and the local police. Preliminary investigations have brought to light the covert operation of cyber criminals abroad. Several cheated investors, including women entrepreneurs, are yet to reveal details of funds that they had lost after signing up with the network.

Police sources said the youngsters emerged as agents for such fraudulent online investment companies expecting huge commission. Some such agents had been well paid by the fraudulent scheme operators as part of the strategies to expand their illegal network and canvas more persons. The use of local language by the new recruits was found to be the main bait to win the trust of more local investors, they revealed.

A senior police officer associated with the probe said the multiple incidents already reported from various parts of Kollam, Ernakulam, Malappuram and Kozhikode districts pointed to the possibility of a well-established gang behind the illegal network for secretly mobilising online investments. He added that many of the investors were found to be quickly trusting fake investment offers on social media for quick returns and revealing confidential banking details in the name of completing the reward transactions.

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