Over 100 websites blocked for facilitating organised illegal investments

The Union Home Ministry on Wednesday said that more than 100 websites that were being operated from overseas and involved in organised illegal investments and part-time job frauds have been blocked.

These websites were identified and recommended for blocking by the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C), an initiative of the Home Ministry aimed at addressing cybercrimes in a coordinated and comprehensive manner through its National Cybercrime Threat Analytics Unit (NCTAU), an official spokesperson said.

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Building a “Cyber Safe India” is the topmost priority under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the guidance of Union Home Minister Amit Shah, the spokesperson said.

These frauds typically involve targeted digital advertisements using keywords like “ghar baithe job” (Do jobs sitting at home) and “ghar baithe kamai kaise karen” (how to earn while sitting at home) in multiple languages.

The targets are often retired employees, women and unemployed youth seeking part-time jobs with whom the fraudsters engage through WhatsApp or Telegram, convincing them to perform tasks such as liking and subscribing to videos or rating maps.

Victims are initially given a commission and then persuaded to invest more for higher returns. Once the victims deposit larger sums of money, their deposits are frozen, resulting in them being deceived, the spokesperson said.

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To combat cybercrime and protect citizens from threat actors, the Home Ministry urges people to promptly report phone numbers and social media handles used by fraudsters to the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP). Several complaints have already been received through the helpline and NCRP as these offences pose a significant threat to citizens and raise data security concerns.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) invoked its power under the Information Technology Act, 2000 to block these websites, who facilitated organised illegal investments and part-time job frauds, and they were found to be using digital advertisements, chat messengers, and rented accounts.

The proceeds from these economic frauds were being laundered out of India through methods such as card networks, crypto currency, overseas ATM withdrawals, and international Fintech companies.

The authorities advised people to exercise caution and due diligence before investing in online schemes that promise very high commissions.

“If an unknown person contacts you via WhatsApp or Telegram, refrain from engaging in financial transactions without verification. Verify the name of the receiver mentioned in the UPI App, as random recipients may indicate a fraudulent scheme involving a mule account. Also, check the source of the initial commission received,” the spokesperson said.

Avoid transactions with unknown accounts as they may be involved in money laundering or even terror financing, potentially leading to account blocking by the police and legal action, the spokesperson advised people.

People were advised to stay vigilant and report any suspicious activities to ensure a safer digital environment.

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