Thursday, Date: Mar 30, 2023 Time: 10:56 pm

Punjab & Haryana High Court denies Bail to persons accused of Hacking Phones

Chandigarh: The Punjab and Haryana High Court has denied bail to three men in a case of blackmail and phones hacking. The accused would send links for download of a loan application, access the entire phone data and then blackmail those trapped by threatening to share their ‘intimate’ photographs with their contacts.
Justice Anoop Chitkara said the accused were able to take advantage of loopholes in the process of procurement of Aadhar cards and SIM cards. The allegations against the accused persons are that of “active participation in the gang activities by alluring the complainant to download the app by sending it on his mobile phone and subsequently enticing him to pay money”, said the bench.
“Surprisingly, the petitioners were able to obtain the sim cards on other persons’ names and also open bank accounts with such documents. Given the grievous nature of the offence, the petitioners are not entitled to bail at this stage,” said the court.
As per the complainant, he had received an SMS on his mobile number containing a URL link prompting him to download a mobile application called ‘Hugo Loan Application.’ Upon opening the link, the mobile application sought permission from the complainant to access all his phone contacts and his photo gallery, which was granted by him.
Subsequently, he filled out all his details and as per the results generated by the phone application, he was eligible for a loan of Rs. 3500. However, he did not apply for the loan. Later on, he received threatening calls and WhatsApp messages which sent him his own nude photographs – which the accused persons had allegedly illegally downloaded on the pretext of the loan.
The complainant also stated that his pictures were already sent to his family members and that the scammers started blackmailing him for money. Feeling threatened, the complainant transferred over Rs. 5000 to the accused persons who continued threatening him to pay money, saying that they will make the pictures viral on social media.
An FIR was then registered against the three persons under Sections 384, 420, 468, 471, 509 and 120B of the IPC, Sections 66D and 67 of the Information Technology Act, 2000 and Section 14 of the Foreigners Act, 1946 in Chandigarh.
During the probe, Chandigarh Police arrested a number of persons. “Due to the involvement of huge amount in cheating and has been in circulation in the bank acounts of shell/fake companies and firms, Chandigarh police has written to the ED to take up the matter at their end on aspects of money laundering,” it told the court.
The police also said the fake loan scam “is a part of the wider nexus of money laundering and hawala transfers of 100s of crores of rupees to China by way of series of transactions through mule accounts of shell companies.”

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