In a first of its kind case, an IIT graduate was arrested by Delhi Police for allegedly stealing personal data of over 15 lakh people by luring them onto a fake website and claiming to distribute free laptops to “2 crore youths” under the “PM’s free laptop distribution scheme”, especially in the wake of the BJP’s victory in the Lok Sabha polls.
Police said the accused, Rakesh Jangid, managed to access data of 15 lakh people in just two days by spreading the misinformation on platforms such as WhatsApp. “A fake promotional multimedia message using the ‘Make in India’ logo was posted on the website to lure people to register themselves and get the free laptop. They were made to fill out personal data under the guise of registration,” DCP (Cyber Crime Unit) Special Cell Anyesh Roy said. Read in Tamil
He added that during questioning, it came to light that the accused was using the BJP’s Lok Sabha win to further peddle the website and convince people to register.
The website has a photo of the Prime Minister and the tagline, ‘Pradhan Mantri Muft Laptop Vitran Yojana 2019’. It asked for the name, age, phone number and state of each visitor.
“He launched a website offering a ‘free laptops government scheme’ to the general public and tried to lure them by stating that these were being distributed by the Government of India on the occasion of formation of new government. Using the Make in India logo and the PM’s picture, he had created a website offering free laptops to 20 million registered users,” Roy said.
The accused was arrested from Nagaur district in Rajasthan by tracing his IP address.
In another first, cyber team officials said they did not get a formal complaint, but the accused attracted their suspicion while they were monitoring online activity and found a huge surge in the particular website’s views.
According to officers, Jangid graduated earlier this year after pursuing a management and economics course offered by IIT. He was supposed to join a private company in Hyderabad before he allegedly decided to make the fake website.
Police claimed he told them that he wanted to earn money via advertising revenue from increased traffic on the website. “He was also aiming to capture personal data of millions of citizens, which could later be sold to cyber criminals to cheat victims or extort money,” Roy said.
Police claimed the accused used Google AdSense, a program that allows bloggers and website owners to make money by displaying ads on their website.
Explaining Jangid’s modus operandi, Roy said he was making money from the large number of page views, known as impressions, and clicks on ads hosted on the website.
“The more attractive the advertisement, the more traffic it generates and larger the revenue generated. AdSense publishers receive 68% of the click cost and Google takes 32% as commission. So far, the accused had managed to get 1.52 million page views and more than 68,000 clicks. The relevant devices have been seized,” Roy said.