16 members of ₹4,000 cr betting racket with links to 11 countries held in Noida


A day after Chhattisgarh police arrested nine people from Greater Noida for running an online betting racket involving the illegal Mahadev Book app, the Gautam Budh Nagar police arrested 16 people on Tuesday for their alleged involvement in the same racket, estimated to be worth more than 4,000 crore with links to Pakistan, Nepal, UAE and at least 11 other countries.

The suspects arrested on Tuesday were operating from a three-storey bungalow in sector 108 for the past month-and-a-half, and in the past two months stole more than 405 crore from their victims, said police officers.

“After a tip-off, we sent two police officers to keep a watch on the bungalow on February 4. On Monday night, a team from sector 39 police station raided the bungalow and arrested 16 people on the basis of evidence. We discovered that they were part of a gang which duped people through online betting Mahadev app,” said Harish Chander, deputy commissioner of police, Noida.

The suspects used a bookie briefcase, a locally built device that connects 10 users through online games, he added.

Explaining their modus operandi, Chander said, “Through text messages, they lured people to download the Mahadev app by claiming users could earn quick money. Users who downloaded the app were asked to pay small amounts of money to play games on it. If a user won a game, he or she would earn even more money as a reward. In this way, the user would begin trusting the gaming app and start investing larger amounts of money. However, as the games were being operated by the suspects, they would cheat and not let the user win.”

Once the suspects took enough money from a user, they would block that user’s player ID and steal the money. “The money was transferred from a saving account to a current account. So far, we have frozen 1.86 crore in different bank accounts of the suspects. The entire nexus has links in Pakistan, Nepal and at least 11 other countries,” said Rajneesh Verma, assistant commissioner of police-1, Noida.

According to police officers, the betting syndicate is headed by Saurabh Chandrakar in Dubai, who operates various other illegal betting centres in Noida. “Chandrakar’s operations in India are handled by Sachin Soni. Chandrakar used to provide bank accounts, fake Sim cards, mobile phones and laptops to suspects,” said Verma.

DCP Chander said, “Two of the suspects were recently trained in Dubai as well. They spent 22 days in training there.”

The police recovered 12 laptops, 73 smartphones, 19 cheque books, 6 passbooks, 90 ATM cards, 58 Sim card, six passports, a Creta car and a Thar Jeep along with other incriminating documents from the suspects, he added.

The suspects, Tarun Lakheda, Rahul, Abhishek Prajapati, Akash Sahu, Himanshu, Anurag Verma, Vivek, Deepak Kumar, Vishal Sharma, Rawat, Divyapraksh, Harshit Chaurasiya, Akshay Tiwari, Neeraj Gupta, Aakash Jogi and Deepak, were arrested under sections 420 (cheating), 467 (forgery of valuable security), 468 (forgery for the purpose of cheating), 469(forgery for purpose of harming reputation), 471 (using a forged document or electronic record as genuine) and 120 B (criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code along with section 66 D (cheating using communication device or computer) of the IT Act.

“The suspects were produced before a magistrate and then sent to judicial custody. Teams have been formed to nab other members of the syndicate,” said a police officer.

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