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Indian Police Unearths $550 Million ‘Pay Per Click’ Internet Scam

© AP Photo / Rajesh Kumar SinghIndian youth use the internet at a cyber cafe in Allahabad, India (File)
Indian youth use the internet at a cyber cafe in Allahabad, India (File) - Sputnik International
Masterminded by a 26 year old tech graduate, the scam mainly involved collecting subscription fees from users who were offered handsome payment for clicking on URLs or liking web pages specified by the company.

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New Delhi (Sputnik) — Police in India's northern state of Uttar Pradesh have busted one of the biggest internet frauds involving US$ 550 million. The mastermind was a 26-year-old tech graduate Abubhav Mittal, who along with Shridhar Prasad and Mahesh Dayal, used to run an online portal that offered customers handsome return for clicking on certain URLs or liking web pages.

To avail the offer people were asked to register on the web portal by paying a subscription fee ranging from about US$ 100 to US$ 1000 after which they were sent URLs on their email ids which they had to click. A person was promised a sum of Rs 5 ($ 0.07) per click. The users were also offered incentives for luring other people into joining the business.

Victims reportedly told the police that Mittal and his associates told them that they were being paid by a third party for clicking on the URLs that mainly comprised publicity materials and advertisements. Initial investigations revealed that no third party was involved and it was basically a ponzi scheme wherein the fraudsters were transferring money on the bank account of users in lieu of clicks and likes with the aim of winning their confidence and luring them into investing more money into the business.

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In the last five years, around 7,000 people had fallen prey to the trick. Around $550 million had been paid into the company's account as subscription fees. The company used this money to make some initial payments to users in lieu of clicks and likes. It was when the company stopped making payments to the users that some of them went to the police to complain.

"Registered under the name of Ablaze Info Solutions Pvt Ltd in Noida, they used to constantly change the portal's name to evade the laws," said Superintendent of Police (Uttar Pradesh, Special Task Force) Triveni Singh.

Besides freezing the bank accounts of the company, police have seized various documents including the balance sheet of the company, list of directors and other officials and list of investors. Further inquiry into the matter is currently underway.

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