Criminal Division Dismantles Investment Fraud Gang, Catches 15 People

Criminal Division Dismantles Investment Fraud Gang, Catches 15 People

The Criminal Division of the Odhisa Police arrested 15 people suspected of investment fraud.

BHUBANESWAR: In a sweeping action against fraudsters involved in online investment scams, the Crime Branch of Odisha Police on Tuesday busted an inter-state gang and arrested 15 of its members for their alleged involvement in duping people and extorting money to the tune of over Rs 200 crore across the country in the last few months.

The accused lured people in around nine states, including Odisha, to invest in stocks, IPOs and cryptocurrencies to get higher returns. They were caught when a Bhubaneswar resident approached the CB after being duped of a whopping Rs 3.04 crore, assuring that he would get three times his total investment in four months.

The gang members reportedly contacted the complainant on Facebook and then asked him to join a Telegram group, where they convinced him to invest in stocks for higher returns. The victim made the investment between March 29 and June 11, but never got his money back.

Following a complaint, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CB) registered a case and began investigating the matter. The agency later arrested the masterminds of the gang, Tushar Sharma and Bhavesh Thakur, both born in New Delhi, and 13 others from Bhubaneswar and other parts of the state.

Investigation revealed that the accused Ranjit Bal of Kendrapada, Dillip Lenka of Balasore, Sunil Prasad of Ganjam and Bishikesan Padhy of Rayagada had opened current bank accounts in different parts of the state and shared their details with Sharma and Thakur.

Kalandi Singh and Sudhansu Pattanaik from Khurda, Udaybhanu Ghadei from Bhubaneswar, Jiten Barad from Nayagarh and Bharat Bhusan Chakra from Jagatsinghpur became part of the investment scam by opening bank accounts for money mules in their names and charging commission for them.

Bikash Chandra Rout and Uttam Sahu of Bhadrak, Satya Ranjan Sahoo of Balasore and Amit Rout of Ganjam also opened bank accounts for mules in their names and shared their details with other gang members.

“The gang operated at three levels. At the top, Sharma and Thakur managed all the operations, while four others facilitated opening of current bank accounts. Nine other accused opened bank accounts of mules on commission. The defrauded money was then transferred into these accounts,” CB ADG Arun Bothra told the media on Wednesday.

Initial investigation suggests that the accused are involved in over 80 cases across the country. So far, they have been found to have cheated two people in Odisha and the number may increase, Bothra said. CB IG Shefeen Ahamed said the accused were transferring the defrauded money outside the country after buying cryptocurrencies. The background of the accused is being verified. One of them has a BTech degree, he added.