A 70-year-old woman from Pune fell victim to a share trading scam, resulting in a loss of Rs 2.8 crore.

Pune officials have noted that cyber criminals employ various tactics, such as offering advanced share trading tips, introducing investment monitoring apps, and making promises of prosperity, to deceive victims.

A 70-year-old Pune resident believed she had amassed substantial capital gains, totaling Rs 19 crore, as reflected on a mobile trading application she diligently monitored for over a month. Acting on the “bulk trading tips” she received, she executed 16 significant transactions amounting to Rs 2.8 crore between the third week of January and the third week of February, according to authorities.

However, her aspirations for a prosperous future turned into profound despair when she discovered that her apparent profits, along with her life savings of Rs 2.8 crore, had vanished. This incident adds to the list of cases under investigation by Pune cyber police, wherein online fraudsters deceived the resident of Senapati Bapat Road through an intricate stock trading scam.

In the third week of January, while browsing the internet on her phone, the retired complainant stumbled upon an advertisement for a stock trading app, as per officials. Upon clicking to join, she was contacted by someone named Melissa, who encouraged her to join various WhatsApp groups for stock trading tips. Melissa then instructed her to provide personal information and download a mobile trading application.

Investigators discovered that she began receiving ‘bulk trading tips’ regarding various stocks shortly after. Furthermore, the elderly woman was instructed to direct her investments to specific bank accounts. On the trading application, profits were reflected at levels five to six times the amount she invested. She conducted transfers ranging from Rs 50,000 to Rs 72 lakh.

After 40 days and 16 transactions, the complainant had invested Rs 2.84 crore, with capital gains reflecting Rs 19.13 crore in her accounts. Wanting to withdraw the profits, she was informed she needed to pay an additional 10 per cent ‘service charge’, amounting to approximately Rs 1.91 crore. Despite her plea to deduct the amount from her profits, ‘Melissa’ insisted that the money be paid separately.

Around this time, the complainant came across various news reports detailing share trading frauds and realized she had fallen victim to deception. Subsequently, she approached the cybercrime cell, leading to the registration of an FIR earlier this week. An officer from the cyber police station stated that an investigation has been initiated into the matter.

The cyber criminals’ tactics include offering online training sessions by purported ‘experts’ on advanced share trading techniques, providing phone-based apps for continuous investment monitoring, and enticing victims with promises of a prosperous future. Investigators describe this trend as an ‘epidemic’ of online trading scams that have been prevalent since the beginning of the year in Pune. Shockingly, a total of 110 individuals have suffered losses amounting to a staggering Rs 18 crore in January and February alone. Probe findings indicate that cyber criminals exploited the names of various wealth management entities, as well as Indian and foreign portfolio investors, to lure victims into their schemes.

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