Asif Alam Shimanto is a college student who was allured by advertisements on YouTube and downloaded an app called “Taka Kamai”. He wanted some easy money and therefore invested around Tk5,000. He was supposed to get more than the invested amount back in two weeks. But after 10 days, he discovered that the app stopped working.
In this, he was not alone. His friends Fardin, Nasir, Fahim and eight others invested around Tk5,000 each and lost the money to the fraudsters.
“I saw the advertisement on a very popular blogger’s channel on YouTube. So I downloaded the app and invested to earn money. At first, I made Tk500 and then I kept increasing the investment. Because they were giving me money in return for my investment, I continued playing accordingly. Then I made a fresh investment of Tk3, 500 and told my friends about it…when no one could access the app despite repeated attempts, we realized that we were being scammed,” Shimanto said.
According to law enforcers, the number of persons who fell victim to such online scams is getting longer.
Fraudsters set sophisticated traps. In some cases, these fraudsters are seen lending money on easy terms, and allure people to gambling and different other cybercrimes. They misuse online platforms including imo, Facebook and ask people to bet online through what seems at the time as an innocent “ludu” match.
Some of the fraudsters have foreign links, say law enforcers. Some also cheated on people in the name of teaching freelancing courses.
The Cyber Crime Investigation Division of Dhaka Metropolitan Police (DMP) analyzed some 406 cases and found out that there were 98 complaints of online scams which is 24.13% of the total complaints.
Then there are 97 incidents of online harassment through hacking social media accounts. There were 78 cases of deflation and spreading false information online and 72 cases of fraudulence through the mobile financial service system.
But there is a tendency among people of not reporting such crimes to the law enforcers until the loss is huge.
A female victim, seeking annonimity, said: “I work at a private bank. I saved Tk100,000 with great difficulty and I lost all my savings in just 3 months. One day a person from next door came to me and told me about an app called Ring. This app had products in its store. One could buy and sell them for a commission of up to Tk200 per product…
“Moreover, one could get additional commission for bringing in new participants. I was getting money from it and earned about Tk5, 000. Then in three months I invested about Tk70,000. Many more people followed me and invested in Ring ID. After three months, suddenly the app got disabled.”
On the issue of seeking legal assistance, the woman said that she did not want to get into that trouble. According to her, she and her friends were lucky compared to those who lost money to Evely, Destiny, E-Orange and MTFE.
Particularly MTFE, which claimed to be registered in Ontario, Canada with the Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC), dealt in virtual assets and were also operating a multi-level marketing (MLM) scheme by offering its users attractive referral benefits and monthly returns for logging on to the platform. As a result, thousands joined the scam and fell victim to it.
Many victims said they used to invest money at MTFE and earn dividends in virtual currency deposited to the mobile app. All were well, until a few days ago when the app stopped responding.
Victims found out there were offices of MTFE in Bangladesh, and none of its chairman or managing director (MD) was available to repay them. All its functions were performed through telephone conversations.
The MTFE used to appoint representatives at the rank of Country Operations Service (COO) to lure investors.
Additional Deputy Commissioner of the Cyber Crime Investigation Division Junaid Alam said: “Currently, the trend of online fraud is on the rise. One of the reasons for this is people’s lack of awareness and the desire to earn money more with less investment. In the process they are losing everything. If the people are not aware, it will not be easy to prevent this type of crime.”