Rajasthan gang behind QR code frauds in city

Online fraudsters cheating people with QR Code transaction arrested, 200 cases solved

City police chief Bhaskar Rao and other officials at a press conference on cybercrimes on Friday. DH PHOTO/PUSHKAR V

Most of the QR code frauds reported from across the city over the past year were committed by a gang of five from Rajasthan. One of the suspects was so intrepid that he opened a WhatsApp contact in the city police chief’s name to cheat a retired person of Rs 50,000. 

It took a CCB team 20 long days to catch the gang from the northern state’s Bharatpur district. Police said the gang’s arrest solved about 200 out of the 316 cyber frauds reported since 2019. 

The gang — comprising Karan Singh, 35, Akram Khan, 18, Aris Khan, 21, Jamil, 42, and Mehzair Khan, 20 — cheated hundreds of OLX and Quikr advertisers by posing as buyers, Rao said at a press conference on Friday. 

While Jamil, a convicted vehicle thief, was the mastermind, the gang’s chief operating officer was Aris, who previously worked for HDFC Bank, Google Pay and Paytm. Aris is an expert in creating fake QR codes and operated the bank account where the money was transferred. Mehzair and Akram were tasked with making phone calls to people.

The gang mainly targeted people selling different things on OLX, Quikr and other websites. Posing as buyers, they would contact people selling furniture, motorbikes, cars, electronic gadgets and other goods. They quickly strike a deal to buy the product and offer to make an initial payment. 

They would send the seller a QR code of Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe and UPI payment and ask them to scan it, saying it would facilitate direct payment to their bank account. But once the seller scanned the QR code, they would lose the amount of money mentioned therein. 

The gang usually gave wrong names and claimed to be army officers or policemen. Besides contacting the advertisers on OLX and Quikr, the gang also put up fake advertisements of motorbikes and other goods online, promising to send them by post.  

The police commissioner asked the people wishing to buy on OLX and Quikr to personally visit the advertiser and make the payment only after confirming their authenticity. 

Using Rao as a bait

Jamil downloaded Bhaskar Rao’s photograph from the internet and saved it as his WhatsApp display picture (DP). He also impersonated Rao in the WhatsApp contact. He wanted to take revenge from Bengaluru police as they were hunting for the gang.

Jamil then contacted Hulimavu resident Sridhar, 60, who was looking to sell a treadmill sale and eventually cheated him of Rs 50,000 in January. 

When CCB officers tracked down the suspects’ homes in Bharatpur, their relatives would send minors boys over and posed them as the suspects. The CCB said it was very difficult to identify the fraudsters and arrest them even with the help of local police. 

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