Delhi Police Cyber Cell has arrested four people who allegedly deceived hundreds of business owners in the name of providing them with concessions or franchises from food companies such as Haldiram and Amul.
The defendants are involved in more than 126 cyber fraud cases in 16 states and have deceived people for around Rs 1.1 crore. Police said the men set up fake websites and invited people to invest in popular brand franchises.
The websites created by the accused were displayed in Google searches and appeared genuine because they reproduced the logo and details of the company.
Police said they received a complaint from a woman this month about the fraud. The woman said she found the website and thought about opening a Haldiram store near her home in Delhi. She called the cell phone number listed on the website, filled out the registration forms, and was asked to pay a registration fee to open the store.
Anyesh Roy, DCP (Cyber Cell), said: “In the last two months she ended up paying Rs 11.74 lakh. She believed that officials from Haldiram were guiding her, but later learned that the men asked for more money but did nothing for the dealer.
A case was filed and the police discovered that the defendants operated several bogus websites offering franchises. Many users across the country were applying for companies on these websites.
“They used over 36 cell phones and several bank accounts. Our team located their location with these details and carried out several raids in Bihar, Haryana, Punjab and Delhi, ”added DCP Roy.
On August 28, police arrested the main defendant Vikas Mistry from Nalanda in Bihar. His associates, including the web designer, were arrested in Faridabad and Delhi.
While Mistry called out their targets and posed as food business managers, his associates Vinod Kumar and Santosh Kumar helped him with bank accounts and SIM cards to embezzle money.
Another accused, Vinay Singh (37), works as CEO of a digital marketing company in Gurgaon. He allegedly designed the websites and promoted them using Google Ads.
“They copied content from the original food company websites and bought similar domain names online. Their website contained keywords such as dealer and franchise that appeared on a Google search, ”police said.