The Mohali police cyber cell dismantled a three-member gang that deceived patients and their loved ones under the pretext of providing them with injections of remdesivir and amphonex, used respectively in the treatment of Covid-19 and mucormycosis.
The defendants, Amit Kumar from Zirakpur, and Mandeep Singh and Kulwinder Kumar, both from Kurukshetra in Haryana, used to lure people through bogus social media ads, police said.
“All three are taxi drivers who have banded together to form a gang and trick people into looking for emergency medicine. Noticing the increase in demand for drugs, they found an opportunity to make easy money and learned the modus operandi on the internet, ”said Gurjot Singh Kaler, Chief Superintendent of Police (Cyber), in addressing the media on Sunday.
A fraud alert from Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand Police led to the arrests. Amit was the first to be arrested in Zirakpur, while Kulwinder was arrested in Kaithal, Haryana.
” ₹14 lakh in cash and five debit cards from different banks were recovered from the accused, ”said the SSP.
Totalization of cash ₹3 lakh and four debit cards were found in Mandeep’s possession, ₹6.5 lakh and a debit card were collected from Kulwinder. Another ₹3.5 lakh were found in his bank account, which was frozen, while ₹1 lakh was found on Amit’s account.
“Most of the victims have been duped by online transactions. We will try to reach them by tracing their bank accounts so that the money can be returned, ”Kaler said.
Posting ads on social media to attract people
The SSP said the defendants spread bogus ads on social media, mostly to groups about the sale of injections at lower prices, even though they were not in contact with any drug supplier to procure the drugs. injections or any other medication.
“They used different mobile numbers on the ads and even formed a WhatApp group to expand their reach. The gang had been active for a few months when Covid cases peaked and demand for these drugs was high, ”Kaler said.
“After taking orders from relatives and patients, they would ask them to deposit money into their bank accounts and stop taking calls by blocking cell phone numbers,” he added.
They mainly targeted people residing in remote areas of Punjab, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Jharkhand.
Mastermind used his English skills to convince victims
According to investigators, Kulwinder is the mastermind of the gang. Among the trio, Kulwinder spoke English most fluently and spoke to victims by phone. Amit was instructed to open new bank accounts to receive money from reckless victims, and Mandeep used to withdraw the money.
Used PoS machines to withdraw money
To avoid getting caught, they would visit various gas pumps and use point-of-sale (PoS) machines to swipe their debit cards and receive money back. They were operating multiple bank accounts with different names at various branches of HDFC and IndusInd banks to handle the racketeering, the SSP said.
The accused were detained under Articles 419 (cheating by impersonation), 420 (cheating) and 120-B (criminal association) of the Indian Penal Code and Article 5 of the Disaster Management Act in the post of Zirakpur police. They were brought to court on Sunday and sent to four-day pre-trial detention.