The alleged fraudulent app was functional for a period of nine days during which the Chinese national managed to dupe victims ranging from age of 15 to 75 years
The accused set up up shell companies to channel the money of users overseas through hawala networks
By the time the Gujarat Police filed an FIR against the Chinese national, he fled the country to China
The spate of scams related to online gaming continue unabated in the country. The Gujarat Police has now reportedly unearthed a major online gaming scam in which a Chinese national duped 1,200 people of nearly INR 1,400 Cr in a span of mere nine days.
At the heart of the matter is a gaming platform called ‘Dani Data’ app which allegedly lured users with high returns. After the users deposited the money, the app became non-functional after the nine-day period, and the depositors were unable to access their funds.
A senior police official told The Times of India that the app was functional for a period of nine days during which the Chinese national managed to dupe victims ranging from age of 15 to 75 years.
The users, who were expecting a windfall, were left to fend for themselves after the app became non-functional after nine days. It was then that the victims realised that their invested money was syphoned off.
As complaints began to trickle, the Gujarat Police formed a special investigation team (SIT) to probe the matter. As per a local official, the issue first came to light in June 2022 when the local police learned that certain persons were targeting people in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh via the Dani Data app.
After Agra police initiated a probe into the matter, the CID (Crime) team of the Gujarat Police began their investigation and found links between the fraudulent app and several other people in north Gujarat. As the investigation progressed, the name of a Chinese national, Woo Uyanbe, reportedly came to light.
“During our investigation, we learned that the Chinese national was in India between 2020 and 2022. He spent time in Patan and Banaskantha, where he met numerous locals and lured them with promises of wealth. He and his accomplices in Gujarat then launched the app in May 2022. It invited bets and promised substantial returns,” a police official was quoted as saying.
As the scam transpired and complaints piled up, the police acted swiftly and apprehended nine individuals connected to the matter. The accused are said to have allegedly helped Uyanbe by setting up shell companies to channel the money of users overseas by hawala networks.
Eventually, the Gujarat Police filed an FIR in Patan against Uyanbe for cheating and flouting the Information Technology Act. By then, the Chinese national, who operated the alleged scam out of Patan and Banskantha, fled the country to China. Eventually, a chargesheet was filed in the case in March this year.
As per the report, the police is yet to gather sufficient evidence in the case against Uyanbe, while the government is yet to file an extradition request for the accused. Police sources also told the publication that Uyanbe continues to operate multiple fraudulent apps and currently operates his network out of China (Shenzhen) and regions such as Hong Kong and Singapore.
This is the latest in a series of alleged money laundering scams, involving gaming apps, that have surfaced in the past few months. Earlier this week, it was reported that Cyprus-based online gaming platform Parimatch allegedly syphoned off INR 700 Cr outside India through a web of 400 shell companies with dummy directors.
Meanwhile, the government continues to tighten its grip on such offshore and Chinese-linked online gaming and betting platforms. In April this year, the DGGI issued notices to 38 such offshore platforms for allegedly laundering money and evading taxes. The government has also issued advisories to broadcasters, streaming platforms, Google and digital news publishers against airing online betting ads.