The Mumbai Police on Thursday recorded statements of 16 people, including a film director and make-up artist, who had used the services of a company that allegedly created fake online accounts to increase the number of their followers on social media in exchange for money.
Given the social distancing measures in place, the statements were recorded through video conference. Fifty-six other companies that offer such services are under the scanner of the Mumbai Police SIT that had registered an FIR into the matter on Tuesday.
The investigation began after Bollywood playback singer Bhoomi Trivedi approached the police commissioner with a complaint. Someone had created a fake instagram account in her name and come up with fake chat logs showing her to be “purchasing followers” to boost her profile.
The company used the fake account to lure other social media users. However, when some of them inquired with Trivedi about the company, she told them it was not her account and approached the police.
An FIR was registered and the Crime Intelligence Unit of the Mumbai Police Crime Branch, under API Sachin Vaze, was asked to probe the case. Following this, Abhishek Daude (20), who worked at a website called followerskart.com, was arrested. The police then decided to extend the scope of the investigation and set up an SIT that would look at all such companies that were providing fake followers in exchange for money.
“Daude provided fake followers to 176 people. Among them, statements of 16 people were recorded today,” an officer said.
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