The Mumbai Crime Branch, which is investigating a social media marketing fraud, is likely to question two leading actresses of Bollywood. The inquiry has revealed that 10 celebrities are among the people who enhanced their social media performance by paying dollars for fake tweets, Facebook likes, comments, etc.
The Crime intelligence unit (CIU) of Mumbai Crime Branch started the investigation when Bollywood playback singer Bhumi Trivedi filed an account theft complaint on July 11. A police officer, privy to the investigation, said the inquiry led them to a list of 10 celebrities who have used the services of one such company.
Also Read: Mumbai Crime: Man arrested for involvement in social media marketing fraud
68 such firms at work
According to the police, the list of the celebs is based on a study conducted by the Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP) in 2019. The CIU has found that 68 such companies are providing the services of fake followers, comments, likes, subscribers, etc.
People pay as much as $52 dollars for one YouTube subscription and $42.12 for a comment on Twitter, while a like on Facebook costs $1.79, according to the rate card available on the website — www.amvsmm.com.
Study not online anymore
According to the ICMP study, as much as 48 per cent of the Instagram followers of the two female actors are fake or bots. “We are investigating an international racket and the study is part of the basis for the probe’,” said an officer on condition of anonymity. But, ICMP told mid-day, “Unfortunately, the article [study] is no longer published online, as it is out of date and, therefore, we’re unable to share it.”
Kashif Mansoor, who was arrested on Wednesday, owns and runs a website that provides fake followers
In the initial investigation, police have found that the fake followers are created either manually or by certain illegal software. Another such website, followerskart.in, which was first unearthed during the investigation into Bhumi’s complaint, is based out of France.
MHA writes to French govt
Investigation officer, CIU, Sachin Vaze said he has written to the French government through the Ministry of External Affairs seeking the details of the company. The agency had earlier arrested Abhishek Dwade, 22, for providing fake followers in US dollars. Dwade had created over 5 lakh fake followers for 176 profiles on Instagram, Tiktok, Facebook, etc.
Police have requested the French government for details of one of the companies, Followerskart.in. Representation pic/istock
“The website has different rate cards for every country, and their rate changes as per the demand. The packages are available on their website and there are people who have bought lakhs of followers to have influence on the social media,” said an officer privy to the investigation.
Followerskart.in charged $2.54 per follower, $1.56 per like and $2.54 per comment on Instagram, and $9.36 for a LinkedIn follower. For YouTube, $52 per subscriber and $2.80 per like, and for Facebook, $1.79 for a like, and $3.25 per Twitter follower, and 42.12 for a Twitter comment.
Screenshot of the followerskart.in site shows the rates per like, views, etc
Another accused held
The police on Wednesday arrested Kashif Mansoor, a civil engineer, from Jogeshwari. He runs AMVSMM, where he provides the same services in Indian currency. “This company is based out of India and Mansoor has his own website to provide such services in Indian currency, most of the B-grade celebs and small companies seem to have used his services,” the officer said.
For one Instagram comment or follower, AMVSMM charges R272, and R120 for a like. For a Facebook comment, the firm charges R1,600. One YouTube view costs R153, subscriber, R216, share R138. For Twitter, it takes R1,904 per follower, R75 per poll vote.
Both booked for cheating
They have been charged under Sections 43 (damage to computer, computer system, etc) and 66 (computer related offences) of the Information Technology Act; and Sections 420 (cheating), 417 (punishment for cheating), 465 (punishment for forgery), 467 (forgery of valuable security, will, etc.), 471 ( using as genuine a forged) and 34 (common intention) of the Indian Penal Code.
Charge for 1 like on Facebook
Charge for one follower on LinkedIn
Charge for 1 subscriber on YouTube
Amount AMVSMM charges for 1 Twitter follower
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