CA in Pune cheated of Rs 3.4 crore in Share Trading Fraud

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In a shocking incident, a Pune-based chartered accountant was cheated out of a staggering Rs 3.4 crore, with over Rs 2 crore of it being money he had borrowed from various banks. The elaborate cyber fraud involved a WhatsApp group named after a renowned British financial major and the promise of high returns through ‘block trade’ and ‘upper circuit trading’. The victim, a 49-year-old employee of a private company in Pune, lodged a complaint with the cyber crime police station, prompting an investigation into the matter.

How the Fraud Unfolded

According to investigators, the victim came across a link to an app-based stock trading platform while browsing Facebook in February of this year. Upon clicking the link, he was added to a WhatsApp group named after a London-headquartered multinational asset management company. In this group, he began receiving messages about members making substantial profits on their investments. The perpetrators then instructed him to download a link, provide his financial and bank details, and install an app on his phone.

Over the following weeks, the victim received ‘tips’ for various stock investments and investment opportunities labeled as ‘block trade’ and ‘upper circuit trade’. Falling for the enticement, he made around two dozen significant payments ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 1 crore, ultimately totaling Rs 3.4 crore. To finance these payments, he obtained three loans, two from a cooperative bank and one from a private sector bank. During this time, the victim’s phone-based application displayed substantial returns on his investments.

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However, when he attempted to withdraw some of the money, he was informed that he would need to donate a portion of the total amount to a charity. It was at this point that he grew suspicious and started investigating the details of the share trading platform. It became clear to him that he had fallen victim to a scam. He subsequently approached the cyber crime cell, and after a preliminary investigation, an FIR (First Information Report) was registered.

Rise in Online Share Trading Fraud Cases

This incident is part of a growing trend of online share trading fraud cases reported to the Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad police. Cyber criminals are using various tactics, such as trading tips, online lectures, phone-based apps, and promises of high returns, to deceive unsuspecting victims. In response to this alarming trend, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) issued an advisory on February 26, warning the public about the tactics employed by fraudsters. The advisory specifically highlighted how criminals pose as SEBI-registered entities and exploit social media platforms to promote fraudulent trading schemes.

It is crucial for individuals to exercise caution while engaging in online trading and to verify the authenticity of any platforms or investment opportunities they come across. Awareness and vigilance are key to protecting oneself from falling victim to cyber fraud.

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