Friday September 22, 2023

FIA begins probe as citizen swindled out of Rs342,000 in online fraud

By Our Correspondent
July 21, 2022

A Karachi-based citizen has been duped of Rs342,000 in an online investment fraud, according to the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA).

The FIA Cyber Crime Wing lodged an FIR on the complaint of Muhammad Monis Rana. It was only after the victim of the alleged fraud moved a sessions court that the agency filed the case and initiated an investigation.

The Additional Sessions Judge-VIII (East), hearing an application filed by the citizen seeking directives for the FIA official to lodge an FIR on his complaint, had taken the agency to task over the slow-paced inquiry. He observed that the inquiry into the alleged scam was launched in the month of March, but even after more than three months it had not been completed yet.

“This may suggest failure on the part of FIA either due to inefficiency or some ulterior motive,” the judge remarked in the order that directed the agency to file a case and launch the investigation.

Rana, through his lawyers Muhammad Waqas Hussain, Hina Rahim and Shahabuddin Soharwardi, had filed the application under Section 22-A and B of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC). The court disposed of the application by directing the FIA to lodge the FIR against alleged company as well as prominent YouTubers and social media influencers involved in the deceptive marketing and promotion of the fraudulent app through social media platforms.

According to the content of the FIR, the citizen said he was swindled out of Rs342,000 in the online investment fraud. He said he deposited varying sums of money in a bank account at a private bank in connection with the investment in an online mobile application. The account titled ‘Siddiqui Mobiles’ was provided by the online investment platform.

He said that when he contacted the firm via his email in order to raise his concerns about the investment and meet its representatives in Pakistan, he got to know that it was registered, regulated and governed by the law of the Caribbean island of Saint Vincent and did not have any physical existence or office in Pakistan, nor did it have any staff here to deal with its matters.

During the inquiry, it transpired that the St Vincent address provided to the complainant by the company’s staff was also being used by multiple companies that were engaged in different scamming and fraudulent activities.

The aggregate turnover of the bank account was found to be around Rs32 million. Muzammil Ali, the owner of the account, and Mateen Awan, who allegedly promoted the app through social media platforms, and their unidentified accomplices have been named accused in the FIR.