The 21-year-old from Isanpur committed the fraud in just 100 days, and in such a manner that the victims probably still have no clue what happened to their money, said officials of the cyber cell of Ahmedabad crime branch.
Parmar, who lives in Narayannagar with his father, a daily wage labourer, and his mother who works as a midwife in a municipal hospital, was caught by cyber cell officers three months ago.
The police received an input that someone from Ahmedabad was bypassing the traditional internet service to access the dark web and shop for premium goods and services by defrauding foreigners. Cops said that when Parmar ordered 30 refrigerators to a spot near his house, they found the perfect opportunity to lay a trap. Posing as delivery boys, cops got hold of him and the extent of his crime spree came to light.
Ahmedabad youth casts ‘dark web’ to fund lavish lifestyle
He did not go to college, but this was just a technicality for 21-yearold Harshwardhan Parmar, who allegedly plumbed the depths of the dark web and came up with a scam that robbed 25,000 foreign nationals of more than Rs 5 crore. He probably would have kept going had he not been arrested by the cops.
The police nabbed him three months ago when he reportedly used stolen card details to order 30 refrigerators. They also seized his laptop which has a market value of $20,000 (Rs 15 lakh approx). An analysis of data retrieved from his gadget revealed that he had reportedly scammed people from at least 40 countries including the US, the UK, Japan, France, Australia, and even Ghana.
“Parmar used to buy credit and debit card details — the card numbers, CVV and expiry date — from websites run by Russian hackers. He paid between $10 (Rs 750 approx) and $100 (Rs 7,500 approx) depending on the amount in the cardholder’s account and in which country the bank was situated,” said police.
Parmar confessed that he got hooked to cybercrime after he was introduced to it as a money-making profession by one Zia Mustufa reportedly from Pakistan, said police. “Parmar said that he had got in touch with Zia through social media. Zia introduced him to the dark web which is now prefered by cybercriminals as a safe channel to carry out online financial crime,” said a senior police officer.
“There are countries where bank account holders do not receive a one-time password (OTP) before transactions. Parmar bought details of cards from such countries. He avoided cards from banks in India as customers are sent an OTP or SMS regarding transactions,” said police, adding, “Once he got hold of the card details, Parmar would use it to buy premium goods and services till he maxed out its limit or emptied out the account.” He would reportedly go on to the dark web and use the cards to buy luxury phones that cost more than Rs 1 lakh, electronics, electrical appliances as well as gold coins and diamond jewellery. “Once he got his hands on the goods, he would sell it to shopkeepers and mall owners for cash,” police revealed.
“He would also use the cards to throw parties for around 500 people by ordering food from expensive restaurants. Each order would cost Rs 5,000 to Rs 1,000 for just one person,” said police, adding, “He organized several trips to Delhi, Mumbai and Goa where he and his friends stayed at five-star hotels. They also availed of international escort service. They used to spend around Rs 5 to Rs 10 lakh in one trip.’ Cops said Parmar has secured bail from a local court as he was charged with a case of cheating which is a bailable offence. However, no complainant has still come forward to register a grievance, they added.