Cyber police bust fraud racket, arrest four African nationals
The man, who identified himself as David Ranz, promised to get her a job at the embassy and between April and July this year, convinced her to pay a total of ₹26.37 lakh under various pretexts. The woman ultimately realised that she was being cheated and approached the police
Mumbai A single online transaction made using an internet router led to the lid being blown off a highly-organised inter-state cyber-crime racket, resulting in the arrest of four foreign nationals who were allegedly cheating people with the lure of high paying jobs in the United States of America.
According to cyber police officials, investigations into the racket were first initiated in July this year, when a woman from Andheri registered an FIR with the west region cyber police. The woman, who was looking for a job, had been contacted via email by a man claiming to be working with the US Embassy.
The man, who identified himself as David Ranz, promised to get her a job at the embassy and between April and July this year, convinced her to pay a total of ₹26.37 lakh under various pretexts. The woman ultimately realised that she was being cheated and approached the police.
“The investigation was challenging, as the accused had nothing registered in their own names, be it mobile numbers, bank accounts, email accounts or even devices used in the crime. Further, they were using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) every time they used the internet. We were continuously conducting technical investigations and were finally able to find one online payment transaction made from an internet router based in Pune. The router was registered in the actual name of one of the accused, and this provided a crucial lead for us to work on,” said Deputy Commissioner of Police (Cyber) Balsing Rajput.
Accordingly, in four coordinated raids across Pune on the night of November 22, the police arrested Greenwale Ndhlovu (26) from Zambia, Dorcus Nakabuka (32) from Uganda, Secilia Nghinasheni (22) from Namibia and Tosin Onkar Don (27) from Ghana. The police said that all four accused had come to India on student or medical visas and were running the racket from their rented apartments in areas like Pimpri Chinchwad and Loni Kalbhor in Pune.
“A search of their computers revealed lists of two lakh e-mail addresses and 1.04 lakh mobile numbers of potential victims, as well as e-mail templates used in various cyber-crimes like retail website frauds, lottery scams. They were in touch with other criminal gangs that specialise in the sale of data. They had purchased the e-mail addresses and numbers from one such gang, bank accounts in other peoples’ names from another gang and data of officials with the US embassy to be impersonated from a third gang,” Rajput said.
The police have found another case registered against the accused in Hyderabad and suspect their involvement in two to three more cases registered in Mumbai, which is now being verified. The police have also found a possible link between this racket and another one busted earlier this year, where 18 accused were arrested for luring victims with the promise of part time jobs through social media. The police said that there are some common links between the entities that supplied data to both these gangs.
The arrested accused have been remanded to police custody till December 3, and are currently being interrogated about their antecedents, said officials.