Cyber crime police, who have dealt with a few cases related to cryptocurrency fraud, found that most victims are unfamiliar with cryptocurrency procedures and norms, making them sitting ducks.
In one case, dealt by the Hyderabad police, the victim was contacted by an accused offering high return on his cryptocurrency through further trading. “The victim was asked to transfer his cryptocurrency from one wallet to another. Once the transfer was done, he lost his rights over it. The victim was not aware of this. The accused then sold the currency and made his money in dollars,” assistant commissioner of police (cyber crime) KVM Prasad told TOI.
Cyber crime police say that the modus operandi often depends on a fake app. The accused first shares a link and directs the victim to download the app. The app gives a ‘statement’ about the victim’s investment and profit earned as well as the total balance. The app helps make victims believe that their investment is thriving and hooks them with a false sense of security.
The key role of the app came to light in a case when three accused from West Bengal were nabbed last month. The police found that the accused would make victims invest money multiple times. To gain the victim’s confidence, during the initial investments, the app would also give an option to withdraw money with profit.
Hoping to gain more, when the victim would make a huge investment, the accused would disable the ‘withdraw’ option on the app. Though the victim would be able to see a ‘huge profit’ in his statement, the accused would have already siphoned off the money.
The accused from West Bengal were led by one Chota Bhai, who is still absconding. The accused parked most of the illegally-earned money in cryptocurrency to avoid it being frozen by security agencies. Cops can only freeze money if the virtual currency is transferred into a bank account.
This year, 10 cryptocurrency-related cases were registered in the three different police commissionerates in the city. Victims lost money ranging from 3 lakh to 60 lakh.