Four people were arrested for allegedly running fake websites of multiple reputed brands and duping aspiring businessmen on the pretext of getting them franchise, dealership and distributorship, police said Sunday. They said the accused — Vinay Vikram Singh (37), Vikas Mistri (24), Vinod Kumar (27) and Santosh Kumar (32) — were arrested during raids in Delhi, Bihar, Haryana, and Punjab.
They ran fake sites of reputed brands such as Amul, Patanjali and Haldiram by getting them registered with similar sounding domain names and promoting them through Google Ads for higher ranking and online visibility, a senior police officer said.
Police said during investigation they found the gang was linked to around 126 cyber fraud incidents across 16 states and duped over Rs 1.1 crore from people so far.
The police got 17 bank accounts of the gang freezed, they said.
According to police, the matter came to light after one of the gang’s victims approached the police telling them she was duped by them.
In her complaint, she told the police she wanted to run a Haldiram outlet and while surfing online, she came across a website claiming to be of Haldiram and it offered franchise and dealership.
When she contacted on the given mobile number, she was asked to fill some forms, submit documents and pay various charges for verification, security deposits etc and ended up being duped of Rs 11.74 lakh over a period of two months, the police said.
When she was asked to pay another Rs 1.6 lakh on a flimsy ground, she realised she has fallen prey to a fraud in the name of Haldiram dealership, they added.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Anyesh Roy said that during the course of investigation, it was found that a large number of fake websites are running in the name of Haldiram, and all these websites are offering franchisee of Haldiram for huge amounts.
“It was also found that a large number of people across the country has become victims of these fake websites. It also came to our notice that these fraudsters were using multiple bank accounts and a large number of bogus SIM cards in more than 36 smartphones to cheat people. The details of all these were obtained and the suspects were zeroed in,” he said.
On the night of August 27 and 28, raids were conducted at various places in India including Nalanda (Bihar), Faridabad (Haryana), Ludhiana (Punjab) and Delhi. This led to the arrest of four members of the gang, said the officer.
“During interrogation, accused Vikas revealed that he along with his associates used to purchase the domain names of big brands and got the websites developed in such a manner that it appeared genuine. One phone number was also displayed on the website. When someone called on the given number for distributorship of the brand, he was asked to pay fees on pretext of various charges,”he said.
Vikas used to switch location between Bihar and Ludhiana. In Ludhiana, he used to stay for months and do the same work there with accused Vinod and Santosh, who both are his relatives. They were given commission from the cheated amount, the DCP said.