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Police Arrested 27 Year Old Vegetable Vendor Turn Cyber Fraudster; Defrauds Rs 21 Crore In Work-From-Home Scam

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Haryana: Rishabh Sharma, a 27-year-old man from Gurugram who used to sell vegetables but had to shut down his business due to the pandemic, has been arrested by Uttarakhand Police for allegedly defrauding multiple individuals with work-from-home offers, accumulating a staggering Rs 21 crore through alleged fraud.

Not too long ago, Sharma was running a vegetable and fruit business in Faridabad. However, the pandemic caused the loss in his business which pushed him to explore work-from-home options to support his family. During this time, he reconnected with an old friend already involved in online scams, ultimately amassing a significant sum in just six months.

According to the report, Sharma’s fraudulent activities revolved around enticing victims with the promise of work-from-home opportunities. He set up a fake website, “marriottwork.com,” closely resembling the legitimate Marriott Bonvoy website. He initiated contact with potential victims by randomly calling numbers provided by his friend and posing as a representative of the international hotel chain.

Modus Operandi

His modus operandi involved offering part-time employment to write reviews for the “Marriott Bonvoy” group of hotels. As trust built, Sharma’s accomplice, Sonia, who pretended to be affiliated with one of the hotels, guided the victims through a process that included writing positive reviews on the fake website. The victims were lured in further with an initial payment of Rs 10,000.

Subsequently, Sonia proposed an investment plan to the victims, convincing them to contribute funds for website development in exchange for a share of the profits. Over time, victims invested substantial amounts, with one businessman from Dehradun losing Rs 20 lakh. Later, Rishabh and Sonia stopped responding to the victim’s calls and messages and eventually disconnected their contact numbers.

An FIR was filed against Sharma for cheating, criminal conspiracy, and IT Act violations in Dehradun. Police investigations revealed that Sharma was involved in fraudulent activities across at least ten states, including Gujarat, Punjab, Delhi-NCR, Telangana, Maharashtra, UP, Delhi, Karnataka, and Bihar.

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