Major phishing racket busted, 6 Nigerians held

Mumbai: City police on Monday claimed to have busted an international phishing racket, with the arrest of six tech-savvy Nigerian nationals, who are suspected to have duped thousands of people in India to the tune of crores of rupees.

Acting on a tip-off, police conducted a raid on Saturday at three flats in Aarey Colony in suburban Goregaon, which the accused had taken on rent. During the operation, six Nigerians - identified as Yoha Fred Jihan (33), Tovy Evaka (34), Yehike Enavhoro (25), Amadin Jefferi (31), Jarvis Nosa Lavani (34) and Thiofelis Edemudia (32) - were found to be involved in phishing activities, Himanshu Roy, Joint Police Commissioner (Crime), said.

Fourteen laptops, 15 data cards, seven pen drives, 23 mobile phones, printers, passports, PAN cards and driving licenses, along with various fake documents and Rs 30,000 of cash were recovered from the flats, the Crime Branch chief said.

The probe brought to light that the accused, who were remanded in police custody by a local court till December 12, had come on business visa to India as textile merchants and had cheated each victim to the tune of Rs 4 lakh to Rs 5 lakh, police said.

"Some have come two years ago, while others a year ago," he said, adding that, "they are operating here since two years."

Noting that the accused were involved in lottery as well as will scams, Roy said, the culprits would first send the victim a text message mentioning that he had won one million pounds.

Elaborating on their modus operandi, Roy said, "In the lottery scam, the victim receives a message stating that he has been randomly picked up in a lottery system of a multi-national corporate company, in which, he won one million pounds and then victim's email ID is sought."

"When the victim replies, he would be sent an e-mail, stating that he should appoint a UK-based lawyer to represent him to complete the process. The accused provide lawyers' names and takes Rs 50,000 to Rs 75,000," the IPS officer said adding that a fake Coca Cola company's letter-head, mentioning the prize money, was recovered from them.

"For tax payments in the UK, they further seek Rs 1.5 lakh. Once the payments are made, they say the cash has arrived in India and the victim should pay to RBI and Customs Department for clearance of the money. In this way, the victim shells out at least four to five lakh (rupees) over a period of time," he added.

According to Roy, the accused used to adopt a similar modus operandi for will scam, in which, they would tell the victim that he had been randomly elected as a beneficiary for a property worth crores of rupees, as its owner was dead and the actual heir could not fulfil the requirements.

"Here also, they send various fake documents through mails to the victim. They even send a fake United Nation's Anti- Terror Department clearance to trick the victim that their entire process is genuine and the cash they are transferring to him, has not been earned through drugs trade or any other illegal activities."

Police are now looking for local supporters and suspect that the gang has its members abroad as well, with whom, they regularly remain in contact.

Police have made an appeal to the victims come forward and lodge a complaint with the Crime Branch.