A Nigerian national residing in Greater Noida was arrested by the cyber cell of Uttar Pradesh Special Task Force on Thursday for cheating a woman of ⁇1.07 lakh on a matrimonial site, officials said on Friday.
The police revealed that the accused, along with more accomplices who are absconding and yet to be identified, have been involved in defrauding over 250 people in India to the tune of ⁇50 crore since the year 2018.
The accused has been identified as Oshitor Churchill Paul, (37), a native of Delta State in Nigeria and was currently residing at Unitech Horizon Society in Greater Noida.
“On March 30, a woman registered a complaint at the Cyber Crime police station in Sector 36, Noida, where she stated that a person named Yogendra Jain had befriended her a few months back through a matrimonial site and described himself as an NRI in the US, ”said Rita Yadav, in-charge of Cyber Crime police station.
The complainant further said that last month, Jain told her that he is sending some presents to his parents in India. Later, on March 25, she received a call from a person claiming to be a customs official who said that £ 50,000 belonging to Jain had been seized and a fine of ⁇10 lakh will have to be paid to release the amount.
“Jain also called the complainant woman and requested her to pay ⁇1 lakh and said that he will return the amount after the seized currency is released. The woman paid ⁇1,07,500 online to the accused in various bank accounts after which he disappeared, ”said Yadav.
An FIR was registered under Sections 406 (criminal breach of trust), 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) and other relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) as well as sections of 66 and 66D (cheating using communication device or computer) of the Information Technology (IT) Act.
The accused was arrested on Thursday night from his residence in Greater Noida. Officials also recovered a large number of sim cards, mobile phones, laptops and other materials used by the accused to dupe people.
It was also revealed that the accused’s wife Joseline Anthony Francis had played the role of the customs officer who had called the complainant.
Upon interrogation, suspect Paul revealed that he came to India in 2018 on a medical visa and after learning ethical hacking, he started getting in touch with Indians through social media and matrimonial websites via fake profiles and by posing as an NRI.
“After befriending gullible people on websites, the suspect would take them into confidence by making promises of marriage and then on the pretext of sending expensive gifts and foreign currency, he would make them pay hefty ‘fines’ to custom officers at the airport for releasing the said gifts and currency, ”said Triveni Singh, superintendent of police, cyber crime, UPSTF.
After investigation of the laptops and documents that were recovered from Paul’s residence, it came to light that he also used to dupe people on the pretext of providing jobs in foreign countries or by claiming that they have won lotteries.
“Officials have recovered over 30,000 email IDs in the suspect’s laptops that were created to make fake profiles and send bulk emails to defraud people in the name of jobs or lotteries. Personal data of thousands of people has also been found on laptops, ”said Singh.
Fake letterheads of various government entities and organizations such as CBI, RBI and some private companies in foreign countries have also been found.
“Paul is the mastermind of the whole nexus of about five people. He is a vicious criminal who was working in a professional manner. Study materials on ethical hacking have also been found from his possession, ”said officials.
The police are now investigating the accused’s bank accounts and are on the lookout for his accomplices who are currently absconding.
“Recent transactions amounting to ⁇50 crore have been found on the accused’s 10 bank accounts. We are tracking the victims of the massive fraud and connecting with them on the basis of the data that we’ve gathered. His accomplices are also being traced, ”added Singh.
Officials added Paul has bought a farmhouse near Mumbai in the name of his wife Joslin, who hails from Goa. They got married in the year 2014 at a church in Delhi.
“A cash prize of ⁇25,000 will be awarded by the SP, cyber crime of UPSTF to the police team that cracked the case, ”said officials.