The Cyberabad Cyber Crime Police in Hyderabad recently busted a fake franchise gang that had conned people out of Rs 94.9 lakh by creating fake KFC websites. The gang operated from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and collected details of people interested in getting a dealership. They designed fake websites where they promised franchises at attractive costs and collected payments under the guise of franchise fees, agreement fees, NOC fees, fees for interior, woodwork infrastructure setup, etc. The arrested persons were Rakesh Kumar, Mohammad Khalid, Yogender Kumar, Pankaj Saraswat, Sarita, and Roshni Singh Goutam. The police seized seven mobile phones, three laptops, five CPUs, one LED projector, cheque books, debit cards, SIM cards, and other items from them.
The accused were booked under sections 420, 467, 468, 120(B) of the Indian Penal Code and sections 66-C, 66-D ITA-2000-2008 of Cyber Crime Commissionerate. The mastermind of the gang was Mohammad Khalid who recruited Khalid for website development and Gagan, Pankaj, and Roshini, Arpitha for tele-calling along with Yugender for running ads through SEO. They convinced their victims to initiate payment and shared mule bank accounts with them to get transfers done into them. To gain the trust of the victim, they sent confirmation emails through a fake KFC domain and deputed someone to make a visit to the site for confirmation and initiated the interior work at the site.
The accused procured a landline virtual number to communicate with victims from Mumbai while operating from Noida. They impersonated company executives (account managers, senior managers, etc.) and made conversations over fake emails and acknowledged the victim’s payments with fake invoices. The gang also developed fake websites of well-known brands like IFFCO, ITC, TATA 1MG, Herbal Ayurveda, Jockey, and many others.
The police advised citizens to verify the authenticity of the websites shown on the internet by visiting their corporate offices and checking the original name and IFSC code of the bank accounts before making payments. Citizens have also been advised to learn the process of establishing franchises and avoid making transactions before verification.