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Business News/ Money / Personal Finance/  Two more investors lose over 1 crore each to WhatsApp frauds. How to protect yourself from such scams?

Two more investors lose over ₹1 crore each to WhatsApp frauds. How to protect yourself from such scams?

Scamsters make the gullible victims join a social media group where most members were reportedly bragging about the high returns they had earned. This induced the victim into investing a large sum of money.

Scamsters permitted investor to get allotment even after the IPO was over, and after the upper circuit was hit. Premium
Scamsters permitted investor to get allotment even after the IPO was over, and after the upper circuit was hit.

On a fateful day, an 88-year-old retired chartered accountant from Vasana, Ahmedabad Madhukant Patel received a message on WhatsApp from someone who claimed to be Sunil Singhania and was working for one Karanveer Dhillon.

Little did he know that one seemingly innocuous message would lead to a set of circumstances that would eventually make him lose 1.97 crore in a well-orchestrated financial fraud prevalent on the social media.

Singhania and Dhillon used to conduct video conference with other members including the victim.

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Those members started sharing on the WhatsApp group about the huge profits they had earned on the basis of investing tips. He, too, invested in the stock market via a website they recommended: He initially realised that he was earning huge profit, he had booked high gains, so he invested 1.97 crore between March 12 and May 3.

But when he wanted to withdraw the money, the scamster demanded first 18.7 lakh as tax followed by 1 percent of portfolio value.

In another strikingly similar case from Ahmedabad one Jayendra Chauhan, deputy mamlatdar, lost 1.13 crore. He found one entity on Facebook called Vanguard Club V5 that featured a famous investment analyst.

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He opened an account gave initial fee of 25,000 so that one professor Ganesh Ranga could share stock tips. Like Patel, he also reportedly earned some profits that gave him confidence to invest 1.13 crore during April.

But his happiness was short lived when each member of the group was told to deposit 30 percent of their balance as a refundable deposit in order to help Ranga who was reportedly arrested in a money laundering case.

When he could not access his money, he approached the cyber-crime cell to file a police complaint. In a similar incident, one investor from Jayanagar in Bengaluru was conned of 5.2 crore as a result of inducements on social media groups.

To keep these fraudsters at bay, follow these tips:

1. Say no to random messages: Do not join any group on social media or a website based on a recommendation of stray message received on your phone.

2. Trustworthy players only: There are a handful of known websites which facilitate trading activities in India. Stick to them because they are genuine and have requisite approvals.

3. Too good to be true: Even if hundreds of people are claiming to be earning huge money, do not believe them. The tall claims are too good to be true. Stock markets give handsome returns in the long term, and not in a short term.

ALSO READ | Don't fall for social media stock scams, warns Sebi

4. Proof of the pudding: These scamsters make you believe that you have earned handsome return by allowing you to withdraw the gains only to win your trust. When you are sold their success story, you are likely to invest more money — after which the withdrawals are blocked on the pretext of one reason or other. 

So, just because you earned the gains and you were allowed to withdraw is not enough. The whole process could be a subterfuge to trap you.

5. Spot the red flags: In the first case mentioned above, the scamsters allowed investor to get allotment even after the IPO had closed, and after the upper circuit had been hit.

These were clear red flags for any rational investor. Be careful of these red flags.

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Published: 25 May 2024, 05:46 PM IST
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