The money was laundered to China, Hong Kong and Dubai via cryptocurrency. While Rs 8.25 crore of the extorted money was found in one account, 25 other accounts were identified. Cash, SUVs, laptops, dozens of debit cards and passbooks were seized.
Police Commissioner Rakesh Asthana had asked the Intelligence and Strategic Operations Fusion Unit to crack down on the operations of these syndicates, after which a team led by the DCP (Special Cell) KPS Malhotra opened an investigation. “Delhi Police have zero tolerance for such syndicates who harass innocent people through dubious means and engage in crimes like money laundering,” the police chief said.
After weeks of technical investigation and human intelligence, teams consisting of ACP Raman Lamba, Inspector Manoj and others arrested the suspects from Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and other regions from the country. Cell phone numbers and devices used in the crime were seized from them.
During the analysis of the seized gadgets, it was found that the defendants transformed photos of women and sent nudes to victims’ contacts to extort them. The Delhi Police will notify the Law Enforcement Department and the Income Tax Department of the money laundering.
The syndicate gave people loans through their apps and extorted 10-20 times the money. In case of late payment, the victims were threatened, mistreated, harassed and defamed.
India-based union kingpin Krishana aka Ravi Shankar has been arrested in Jodhpur. He was working with a suspect, likely a Chinese national, who was also arrested. His identity has not been revealed. Krishana provided bank accounts for his alleged Chinese accomplice and also funneled the extorted money to China in cryptocurrency. The encrypted accounts of three Chinese nationals have been identified.
“One of the men arrested is Kartik Panchal, who led a team of callers to contact victims who wanted or had taken out a loan,” Malhotra said.
During the technical investigation, the police discovered that the syndicate offered easy loans through its Android application without KYC verification. They promised that the loans would be available in a very short period of time, sometimes immediately. Interest skyrocketed as a result.
Moreover, they failed to provide the full amount of the loan and charged the victims exorbitantly under different pretexts. “If the loan amount was Rs 6,000, they deducted around Rs 2,300 for service charges and the like. The victim only received Rs 3,700,” explained the DCP. However, the victim had to repay 6,000 rupees with interest, which sometimes reached 30,000 to 40,000 rupees within a few weeks.
“The Cash Advance app has also been connected to a server based in China by creating a proxy in the Android device. The owner has not given any legitimate information regarding the development organization or company on Google Play Store,” added Malhotra.
Other victims have been identified. Other union members were wanted and further arrests were likely in the coming days.