Stock Market

Citizens lose lakhs in fake stock market trading scams

After two-four weeks of being added to a WhatsApp group for tips about investing in purchasing stocks online, a Hyderabad-based private employee ended up losing ₹33.35 lakh of his savings. 

Hyderabad city cyber crime officials warned people against fraudsters targeting gullible netizens from falling prey to fake stock market trading frauds, identifying it as one of the trending modus operandi of this year. 

The victim started by investing ₹50,000 and participated in a series of trading shares on the platform, after which he was asked to pay 20% commission on profits followed by a 10% management fee – only to learn he had lost all his money to a fraud.

In a conversation with The Hindu, ACP of Cyber Crimes, Hyderabad, R. G. Siva Maruthi revealed that about 20 such cases have already been filed in the Hyderabad Commissionerate alone, in which victims have lost upwards of ₹3-4 crore. 

According to the ACP, fraudsters, with the data sourcing method, often target people in the age groups of 30-50 years, and who work in the private sector. 

One victim was a Hyderabad-based advocate who lost ₹85 lakh, another an IT employee lost ₹55 lakh, a chartered accountant lost ₹91 lakh, and another private sector employee lost ₹25.30 lakh. 

“These crimes are not done over one to two days, it usually spans over a period of one to three months where fraudsters approach victims through various online social media platforms like Telegram, WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook with advertisements regarding free stock market tips and insist the victims to join the premium/VIP groups,” the official explained. 

Fancy number as ‘profits’ will be displayed on the dashboard of the website but when the victim tries to withdraw the profits, the withdrawal option gets blocked and the fraudsters insist transfer of more money for unblocking the account by citing different taxes and penalties, he further added. 

In most instances, cyber criminals also share fake screenshots of the profits earned by other clients and also transfer money to the victim’s bank account to win the victim’s confidence. 

So far, five to six arrests have been made of suspects involved in providing personal bank accounts to the fraudsters to facilitate such frauds and marketing it further to more people. The cyber crimes police has largely shifted their focus on fraudsters running this scam, the official said

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