New Delhi, May 13
A 21-year-old engineering student was arrested from Pathankot in Punjab for allegedly duping 47 people on the pretext of providing ICU set up and oxygen cylinders at home for their COVID-19 positive friends and relatives, police said on Thursday.
The accused, Aryan Singh alias Dhananjay, is a resident of Noida, Uttar Pradesh and is pursuing B.Tech from a renowned institute there. With the money acquired from cheating people, he stayed at luxury hotels in Gurgaon, Noida and Jammu, police said Fluent in English and a good communicator, he used Instagram to target his victims, police said, adding that he got the idea after receiving overwhelming response to a request for help that he posted on the photo and video sharing app.
He also used the name of a well-known foundation to gain trust of the victims and requested them to visit the website for verification, police officials added.
His victims are from Delhi, Noida, Faridabad, Mumbai and other cities, they said.
The matter came to notice after one of the relatives of a coronavirus patient duped by the accused complained against on the COVID helpline.
The complainant alleged that he received a message on a WhatsApp group for setting up ICU facility at home and contacted the given mobile number where the receiver introduced himself as Dhananjay and directed him to deposit Rs 3,950 as advance rent.
After he transferred the money to an e-wallet on April 30, the accused stopped responding to the complainant's phone calls, he alleged.
Deputy Commissioner of Police (North) Anto Alphonse said a case under section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of Indian Penal Code was registered at Wazirabad Police Station. The cyber crime cell team conducted technical analysis of alleged mobile number and online transactions.
"As per technical investigation, the location of the accused was traced in Jammu and his previous transactions revealed that he used to stay in luxurious hotel. His location was traced next to Radisson Hotel in Jammu. When our team reached Jammu, it was found that the suspect had checked out from the hotel," he said.
However, Singh was apprehended near Pathankot after a long chase, brought to Delhi and subsequently arrested, he added.
The police have recovered mobile phones used by Singh in the offence for contacting victims as well as for operating his online account.
"During interrogation, it was revealed that he posted a story on Instagram for enquiry about oxygen cylinder and seeing the response of large number of people for his enquiry, he came up with an idea of duping people in name of setting up ICU at home," Alphonse said.
"He further disclosed that his number got shared on WhatsApp through several groups, and he was contacted by relatives of corona patients, who were looking for ICU bed in hospital. Accused Aryan, with his good communication skills, explained the entire process to victims and provided online wallet account and UPI ID to victims for transferring money," he said.
Initially, the accused was using his own e-wallet but switched to a different account later on. He believed that the victims would not approach police over losing a small amount of money, the officer said. — PTI
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