Mumbai Police bust global social media marketing influencers’ fraud

Mumbai Police bust global social media marketing influencers’ fraud

Written By: / Wednesday, 15 July 2020 17:00

IT Correspondent
Mumbai, July 15:

In a significant development, the Mumbai Police have busted an international racket involved in creation of fake profiles on social media and inflating number of fake influencers, to promote social media marketing business and nabbed one person in this connection. 
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh said that the accused was nabbed from Gauri Shankar Nagar, Kurla, Mumbai, by the Crime Branch officers, after gathering information with analytical techint  (technological-intelligence) and through own sources. The accused has been remanded to police custody till 17 July. 
Investigations reveal that the accused is part of a larger global fraud racket involved in creating crores of fake identities on various social media platforms and making fake performance statistics like fake followers, fake comments, fake views etc, to inflate the influencers’ performance statistics. 
Given the huge ramifications of the unfolding probe, Singh has announced the formation of a Special Investigation Team of Central Intelligence Unit(CIU) and Cyber Cell under Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection), Nandkumar Thakur to unravel and curb these malpractices. This will be the first ever SIT of such a kind that will investigate the illegal aspects of social media marketing businesses operating in violation of the IT Act, Singh said.
 The police chief said that the accused has so far created over half-a-million fake followers for 176 profiles of Instagram, TikTok, Facebook and other social media platforms in order to fraudulently project them as influencers, through manual operations or using certain illegal softwares called ‘bots’. 
The lid of the mega-scam was blown off following a complaint by Bollywood playback singer Bhoomi Trivedi, who approached Singh on Saturday, 11July 2020, demanding action after some unknown person created her fake profile on Instagram and  approached other film personalities to create such profiles for them. 
Singh directed the Crime Branch to investigate the matter, while Joint Commissioner of Police V.K. Choubey, ordered the CIU to take up the probe, even as a case (CR 439/2020) was registered with the Bangur Nagar police station in Goregaon West in North Mumbai. 
The arrested accused worked for one such portal, www.followerskart.com. The Police Commissioner said that this is the first time such a racket with international ramifications has been busted in the country and such fake profiles and followers are also being used to create rumours and panic in the society. 
The CIU also found that more than 100 such Social Media Marketing (SMM) portals are providing fake followers, through fake identities and the scamsters are operating through Indian and international Internet networks and servers. The CIU has already identified 54 such Indian portals and now action is being initiated against them.

About the Author

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar

Raju Vernekar is a Media Professional based in Mumbai and is a regular contributor of Imphal Times. He had served as Chief Reporter at Free Press Journal (1996 – 2015 ). His Activities includes writing for different news papers, script writing/production for TV channels, Films Division. Writing poems in Marathi, Hindi, English, Guiding mass media students and helping people to solve their problems. Raju may be contacted at [email protected]

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