Stock Market Fraud via WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram: How Two Investors Lost Over Rs 3 Crore

Stock Market Fraud via WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram: How Two Investors Lost Over Rs 3 Crore

Stock Market Fraud via WhatsApp, Facebook, and Telegram: How Two Investors Lost Over Rs 3 Crore

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Two alarming incidents of stock market fraud have recently surfaced, resulting in over Rs 3 crore in losses for individual investors. As these scams become increasingly prevalent, it’s crucial to understand how to identify and protect yourself from such fraudulent schemes.

Case 1: An 88-Year-Old CA Loses Rs 1.97 Crore

An 88-year-old retired chartered accountant from Vasana, Ahmedabad, fell victim to a sophisticated stock trading cyber fraud, losing Rs 1.97 crore. According to the FIR filed with the Ahmedabad cybercrime branch, the scam began in February with a WhatsApp message from an unknown sender claiming to work with a stock market expert.

The retiree was invited to join a WhatsApp group named “Stock Vanguard 150,” where various investment tips were shared. This group transitioned to another named “Stock Vanguard (XM-5),” where video conferences were conducted to discuss investment strategies. Initially, small trades yielded significant profits, convincing him to invest larger sums.

The fraudsters operated a legitimate-looking website, “app.alicexa.com,” where he monitored stock updates and transactions. Between March 12 and May 3, 2024, he invested Rs 1.97 crore based on the tips provided. Suspicions arose when he was told he could buy shares post-IPO closure and at upper circuit prices.

When he tried to withdraw Rs 1.5 crore, he was asked to pay a 15% tax, amounting to Rs 18.7 lakh. Subsequent demands for additional payments finally revealed the scam. The retiree reported the fraud to the Ahmedabad cybercrime branch, filing an FIR against the unknown fraudsters.

Case 2: An Officer from Vastral Loses Rs 1.13 Crore

Another incident involved an officer from Vastral, Ahmedabad, who lost Rs 1.13 crore in a share market fraud. The officer, while browsing Facebook on April 3, discovered Vanguard Club V5, featuring a renowned investment analyst. After joining the club’s app, he was asked to provide his Aadhaar card details and deposit Rs 25,000 to open an account.

Following the investment tips shared by “Professor Ganesh Ranga” through the app, the officer initially made profits. Encouraged, he invested Rs 1.13 crore between April 4 and April 29, 2024. The situation turned dire when he received a message on April 30, 2024, claiming Ranga had been arrested for money laundering. Group members were asked to deposit 30% of their balance as a refundable deposit to access their funds.

Realizing he had been scammed, the officer reported the incident to the Gandhinagar cybercrime branch.

How to Identify and Protect Yourself from Stock Market Frauds

Identifying Scams

1. Unsolicited Messages: Be cautious of unsolicited investment offers via WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram, or email.

2. Too-Good-To-Be-True Returns: High returns with low risk are often a red flag.

3. Unverified Groups and Websites: Verify the authenticity of groups and websites before making any investments.

4. Pressure Tactics: Scammers often pressure you into making quick decisions without giving you time to think.

Protecting Yourself

1. Research: Always research the investment opportunities and the people or entities offering them.

2. Verify Authenticity: Cross-check the legitimacy of the investment platforms and advisors through official financial regulatory bodies.

3. Avoid Sharing Personal Information: Never share personal details like Aadhaar card numbers or bank account information with unverified sources.

4. Use Official Channels: Conduct transactions through recognized and official financial institutions and platforms.

5. Consult Professionals: Seek advice from certified financial advisors before making significant investments.

By staying informed and vigilant, you can protect yourself from falling victim to stock market scams and safeguard your hard-earned savings.