The newly formed strategic fusion & strategic ops (IFSO) unit of Delhi Police’s Special Cell has busted a WhatsApp hacking syndicate that was involved in cheating by impersonating people. The syndicate was operating from Delhi and Bangalore. A foreign national named Chimelum Emmanuel Aniwetalu has been arrested while another has been identified. Raids were conducted at different locations to nab the accused.
The police said that the accused used multiple modus operandi to cheat citizens using their WhatsApp.
A case was registered and an investigation was started after a complaint was received by the Cyber Crime Unit in which the complainant’s mobile phone was hacked by some unknown persons. The hackers took over the control of the WhatsApp of the complainant’s smartphone and started demanding money from the contact list by sending various distress messages. The accused had also provided a bank account to the contacts of the complainant for transferring the money. The technical investigation and human intelligence led to the identification of one of the accused persons, the police said.
A total of 15 mobile phones and one laptop have been seized from the accused’s possession. The seized laptop reveals that they use applications that are being used to design various malware links. He used to send the specially designed malware disguised in the form of some application to the victim’s devices. He would create a dedicated application for each victim which when downloaded and installed on the victim’s phone will send the Contacts, Call Logs and SMSs to the accused’s server.
A per a statement from the police, it was revealed during interrogation that the accused was also involved in other forms of inducement and cheatings, which has also been unearthed in the forensic examination. The most prominent modus operandi was to impersonate as a girl and then befriend various social media profiles and once the person could develop the trust on his fake profile, he would then subsequently send a link, disguised as an invitation to join a new social media group. Once the person clicks on that link, he or she would lose control over their social media profiles. Thereafter, Emmanuel used to operate the social media accounts for his nefarious goals.
He was also involved in cheating on the pretext of selling herbal seeds, wherein he would first create a false demand on exaggerated price and then would also provide the same at a lower price through some other contact. In this process, the victim would normally be cheated or defrauded of the money invested in seeds. It was also learnt that the accused was involved in cheating on the pretext of making friends on social media. He used to impersonate as female and then would trap the victim by projecting that she has sent a precious gift and certain fees are to be paid for the delivery of the gift.
The police also found that Emmanuel was staying in India beyond the expiry date of his valid visa. His tourist visa expired in 2018 and he created a fake document pertaining to United Nations Asylum Seeker. In this regard, a separate case has been registered under section 188 of the IPC & Section 14C of the Foreigner Act. The house owner, who had rented his premises to the accused has been booked accordingly.
The Delhi Police has also requested people to be cautious while communicating on social media and clicking on any web/URL link sent to them. It has also advised checking the credentials of foreign nationals while letting out their premises on rent.
Further investigation into the case is underway.