Intricate Cyber Extortion Racket Revealed

Anil Panesar - Senior WriterAnil Panesar - 18 July 2023 in News
Icc News Header Week 28 2023

The Indian police force have often had their hands full when it comes to cracking down on illegal land-based casinos. Unlike real money online casinos, whose terms are still being negotiated by the government, land-based casinos are strictly prohibited for Indian locals, unless operating in a sanctioned state on one of the country's casino cruise liners. However, this week we uncover an online casino syndicate bust, headed by Lawrence Bishnoi.

In a substantial triumph for law enforcement, the Punjab Police recently disclosed their success in dismantling a massive extortion operation. The criminal network was tied to the notorious underworld figure Lawrence Bishnoi. The operation spearheaded by the state's special operation cell in Mohali resulted in the apprehension of three principal figures: Rohit Bharadwaj of Zirakpur, and Chandigarh residents Mohit Bharadwaj and Arjun Thakur.

The criminal ring operated an online gambling forum, aptly named 'Diamond Exchange.' They used this platform to trap their unsuspecting victims with enticing promises of high returns, winning their trust with initial successes.

Unraveling the Debt Snare: Understanding the Criminal Strategy

The Director General of Police (DGP) Punjab, Gaurav Yadav, shed light on the duplicitous strategy employed by the culprits. After their initial losses, the victims were tempted with substantial lines of credit to keep them invested in the gambling activities on the platform. However, this seemingly benign offer was a malevolent trap. When ensnared in this web of debt, victims were subjected to astronomical interest charges, sometimes reaching into the realms of crores.

Any reluctance or incapability to repay the borrowed sums was met with intimidating calls from affiliates of the Bishnoi gang, some even dispatched from prison cells. The authorities are currently making strides to freeze the implicated bank accounts and unearth the identity of the fraudulent website's owner.

Perpetrators' Hideout and Confiscated Assets

Assistant Inspector General Ashwani Kapur confirmed that the detained criminals operated from a leased apartment in SAS Nagar. They played pivotal roles in carrying out the extortion activities under the guidance of the Lawrence Bishnoi gang. The enforcement operation resulted in the confiscation of assets amounting to ₹ 14.78 lakh from Rohit Bharadwaj, along with mobile devices and significant evidence.

Exploring the Underworld Reign of Lawrence Bishnoi

Lawrence Bishnoi, a figure of terror in the criminal underworld, is the progeny of a Ferozepur-based agriculturist. A former leader of the Student Organisation of Panjab University (SOPU) and an alumnus of DAV College, Chandigarh, Bishnoi's slide into criminality was marked by a series of escalating violent events.

He is currently implicated in over 20 criminal cases, spanning attempted murder, carjacking, extortion, snatching, and Arms Act violations across Punjab, Haryana, Chandigarh, and Rajasthan. Bishnoi's criminal portfolio also includes an arrest by Faridkot police for possession of foreign weaponry. Despite his incarceration, his control over criminal activities appears undiminished.

Among the list of allegations, Bishnoi is accused of the sensational murder of the famous singer, Sidhu Moosewala. Despite this, he has consistently denied direct involvement, shifting the blame onto another gangster, Goldie Brar. Furthermore, Bishnoi alleges that Sidhu was implicated in the murder of Vicky Middukhera, a close ally of his gang.

Bishnoi's Health: A Recent Update

In a recent development, Lawrence Bishnoi was transferred to a Faridkot-based hospital following sudden health issues, primarily severe fever and stomach infection. This relocation from the Bathinda jail occurred amidst stringent security arrangements, with authorities maintaining a close watch on him. Despite his ailing health, Bishnoi continues to be central to numerous ongoing investigations.

The recent exposure of the illegal online gambling racket associated with Bishnoi further amplifies the vastness of his criminal empire. As authorities delve deeper, more facets of Punjab's criminal underbelly are anticipated to emerge.

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