Saturday, September 9, 2023

Look out circular against Chinese nationals in online ponzi scam, habitual offenders involved

The Union Home Ministry's Bureau of Immigration (BOI) had issued a look out circular (LOC) against Chinese national Guanhua Wang, one of the main accused in an online Ponzi scheme in late July this year. The LOC was issued on the request of the Economic Offence Wing (EOW) of Odisha Police after registration of a case under Sections 419/420/467/468 /471/120-B of Indian Penal Code (IPC), 66-C & 66-D Information Technology Act and Section 6 of Odisha Protection of Interests of Depositors (in Financial Establishment) Act, 2011.

Guanhua (40) is wanted in a huge pan-India online Ponzi scam, involving fraud and siphoning of hundreds of crores rupees out of India using a complex network of mule bank accounts, shell companies and crypto-traders. A resident China’s Hangzhou city, he has formed a company called Bettec Technologies Private Limited in 2019 based in Dickenson Road, Bengaluru. He also controls at least two other Bengaluru-based companies — Gamecamp Solutions Private limited and Byrontec Technologies Private Limited — through his mule directors.

On the request of EOW, Odisha, BOI of Union Ministry of Home Affairs issued LOC again in the first week of September against 3 more Chinese citizens (2 male and 1 female), all main accused and close associates of Guanhua Wang, in mega online Ponzi scam.The accused were Liu Huan, Wenhui Zheng and Xu Xiaolu.

During initial investigation, the EOW has found that the accused had siphoned more than Rs 100 crore through his company. It has frozen around Rs 70 lakh from his company’s accounts in 14 different banks. These bank accounts were linked to Apps like Dice, Quickwrummy, Fly Aviator, Weonlinepro Three, MVP trader, Ft11, UNO, Forex Dana, Live 22 cash, Aviator X, City5, Homer Alexander etc.

The Financial Intelligence Unit has been requested to provide details of its other accounts. The total transactions in the above suspected bank accounts are of more than Rs 1,000 crore.

Guanhua had been running this scam from China with the help of many India based associates after visiting India, mainly Bengaluru, six times in 2019 and 2020.His Indian associates have been managing the mule bank accounts, shell companies and crypto-traders,WhatsApp/Telegram group tutors and advertising using morphed photos of celebrities. These scammers used the morphed photographs of big celebrities like Amitabh Bachhan, Mukesh Ambani, Ratan Tata, Sachin Tendukar, Technical Guruji (YouTuber),among others to lure the investors. Logo of big companies like Tata was also used to mislead/impress people on various social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Earlier, it was found that an App "Join trade- Financial growth” used morphed Pictures of leading Bollywood actors like Akshay Kumar and Manish Paul.It was also found that some social media influencers also promoted these apps/scheme and TV stars/small celebrities were found endorsing their advice related to making quick money through these online Ponzi apps.

During the last one year, EOW Odisha has found that at least in three cases including the above case of cyber-financial cases involving frauds of hundreds of crore rupees being run by Chinese nationals. Most of the victims are from lower middle class, including many students, who wanted jharsugura bye poll Andhrapradesh to become rich in a very short span of time using these shortcuts.

The case details are as under: 

1. EOW Case No.09/2022- Illegal Loan Apps case- Two Chinese

Liu Yi

2. EOW Case No.13/2022- (Illegal Loan Apps case)- three Chinese

Shen Zhenhua

Quan Hongwei

Yang Haiying

All of them had their office/linkages in Bengaluru.An initial probe into a recent case of siphoning of Rs 14 crore by QR code manipulation suggested that entire conspiracy was being run from China.

July 2022 case

Earlier, following a request by the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Crime Branch, the Bureau of Immigration (BOI) had issued a lookout circular on 12 July 2022 against Liu Yi, a Chinese national and the key accused in digital app loan fraud case.

EOW had booked Liu Yi under various sections of the IPC and Section 66 D of Information Technology Act. The case was registered on April 21, 2022. Liu Yi used to run many illegal digital loan apps in India, such as KOKO Loan, JOJO Loan, Golden Lightning Loan, Silver Kredit Loan, Gold Cash loan, Speedy rupee Loan, Xpress credit Loan, Rupee Day Loan and others.

It was found surprising that one app alone had more than 1.5 lakh downloads. It was suspected that they duped people across the country, particularly targeting lower middle-class people who were in need of small loans especially during Covid times.

Liu Yi started his illegal business in India in 2019 from Bangalore. His parent company was Jianbing Technology in Hangzhou, China. A director at Omlette technology private limited, he indirectly controls other companies including IWT India, Ocean trading, Yellow Tune Technologies private limited and Techlite development private limited. 

EOW had arrested five accused accomplices of the Chinese mastermind. There were at least two more Chinese people who used to assist the accused in the scam.
It was suspected that they are running illegal loan apps in other countries too, especially in Thailand.

EOW got in touch with various state police and had conducted raids in Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi. More than Rs 6.57 crore has been frozen.

Following the download in one's mobile, fake loan apps offer small loan amounts ranging from Rs 3,000 to Rs 10,000, which is credited to the customer’s bank account. Once the amount is credited to the customer’s bank account, he/she is asked to repay the amount at an excessive rate of interest within a week.

It is when the concerned customer fails to repay the high rate of interest, that he/she is harassed. Obscene messages and pictures along with abusive texts are sent to his/her WhatsApp number as well as to his/her contact list as a coercive measure to recover the loan amount with interest.

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