By Raju Vernekar
Mumbai, Dec 2:
Four African nationals-two men, two women, were recently arrested from Sangvi, Pimpri-Chinchwad and Lonikalbhor areas of Pune, by the Mumbai Cyber crime police on charges of running an international job racket and duping gullible job-seekers.
The accused were arrested on the night of November 22 and were remanded to police custody till Saturday, December 03, a press release issued by Mumbai Police on Wednesday read.
The accused were identified as: Greenwale Ndhlovu (26) from Zambia, Dorcus Nakabuka (32) from Uganda, Secilia Nghinasheni (22) from Namibia and Tosin Onkar Don (27) from Ghana. They had come to India on student or medical visas and were running the racket from their rented apartments in the Sangvi, Pimpri Chinchwad and Loni Kalbhor areas of Pune in Maharashtra.
An FIR (No 57/2022) has been registered with West Region Cyber Police station, Bandra Kurla Complex in North West Mumbai and the accused have been booked under sections 419, 420, 467, 468, 471 and 120 B of Indian Penal Code, sections 66 (c) and 66 (D) of the Information Technology Act 2008 and section14 of Foreigners Act 1946.
The fraudsters impersonated as David J Ranz and sent email through [email protected] and [email protected] similar to that of the American Embassy, offering jobs and visa in the US. They asked job seekers to deposit money in the six bank accounts they operated, Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP) Cyber Police Balsingh Rajput said.
Incidentally David J Ranz is a career member of the US Senior Foreign Service who has been serving as US Consul General in Mumbai since August 2019.
The accused defrauded many people between April 05 to July 01, offering allurements like OLX, lotteries, lucky draws and gifts. The first offence was registered on October 15, when a private bank employee from Andheri in North West Mumbai duped of Rs 26,37,473/-, approached the police. The woman had responded to an advertisement in April that offered a US visa and job. She was asked to pay Rs 26 lakh for the same, which she did. However, when they demanded more money, she got suspicious.
The police then used the location of internet routers to trace the accused, who were running a syndicate out of Pune. An investigation team comprising senior inspectors Suvarna Shinde,Mahendra Jadhav, Poonam Jadhav traced the fraud to Pune where the suspects lived under the pretext of education and medical treatment. The passports of three accused had expired and only one had a valid visa.
The investigation was challenging, since the accused had nothing registered in their own names, be it mobile numbers, bank accounts, email accounts or even devices used in the crime. They were using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) every time they used the internet. The police were able to find one online payment transaction made from an internet router based in Pune since the router was registered in the actual name of one of the accused. This provided a crucial lead.
They accused had purchased the e-mail addresses and numbers from one criminal gang and bank accounts in other peoples’ names from another gang. The police team recovered 13 mobile phones, 4 laptops, passports of different countries and three internet routers from them. Draft messages, email letters and other literature, pen drives and hard disks were seized. They were smart enough to buy the SIM cards in someone else’s name.
There are cases registered against the gang in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Now their suspected involvement in two to three more cases registered in Mumbai, is 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, DCP Rajput said.