An online trading scam worth 37bn Rupees ($550m, £440m) has been busted in India and three men were arrested. As many as 700,000 people are thought to have been conned by fraudsters who posed as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to lure victims.
The Uttar Pradesh Police Special Task Force (STF) have arrested the suspects and have seized their bank accounts, which contained about 5bn Rupees. The law enforcement agencies beliee some bank employees could have been involved in the scam as huge amounts of money has been siphoned off.
The firm, based in the northern Indian city of Noida, duped people claiming to provide digital marketing solutions and collected money from them through an online trading site.
Victims said the fraudulent firm had even claimed that it has plans of launching its own private bank in order to deal with rapidly rising demands of the company.
"The company claimed it earned Rs6 for every click and gave Rs5 to investors. However, the links sent were fake," said STF's Superintendent of Police, Triveni Singh.
The suspects, identified as Anubhav Mittal, Sridhar Prasad and Mahesh Daya, managed to escape arrest by constantly changing the name of the company. More than 250 passports were confiscated when the scammers were arrested.
The swindlers ran portal socialtrade.biz seeking investors to pay a particular amount to become a member in return for favourable likes on the investors' or their companies' social media accounts. Besides the socialtrade.biz, the scammers also used freehub.com, intmaart.com, frenzzup.com and 3W.com for their modus operandi.
Various law enforcement agencies such as Enforcement Directorate (ED), Securities and Exchange Board of India (Sebi), and RBI Reserve Bank of India (RBI) – who all handle various facets of financial crimes – have been made aware of the scam and they are looking into the matter.