Defrauding the General Public through Fake Forex Trading Applications

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Three android applications in the name of P Trade, A Trade, G Trade were identified providing digital investment and forex trading services. One among them “P Trade” has been falsely advertising the picture of Prime Minister of Pakistan to attract the investors. The image of the Prime Minister standing among foreign Nationals being advertised on YouTube depicts the details of small investments like Rs. 5, Rs. 50 and Rs. 500 that may result in hefty profits of Rs. 200, Rs. 3,000 and Rs. 40,000 respectively just in a period of two or three days. The said image was an alteration of an actual picture taken at an official event attended by the Prime Minister. This tactic to attract the investors is not only unethical but highly misleading as use of such images implies that the digital investment application has the Prime Ministers endorsement or support which is not the case.

Till the 5th of April 2023, each of all three mobile applications were downloaded more than 100,000 times. Upon selecting the deposit (Investment) option, these applications offer a range of investments from Rs. 500 to Rs. 50,000. However, choosing any of these options often leads to individual account details rather than the respective business accounts of P Trade, AI Trade, or G Trade.

Each deposit attempt through the application typically refers to a new individual account. More than hundreds of such branchless banking accounts were identified and multiple accounts among them were found common that were being utilized by all three android applications.

A total of 30 major accounts were analyzed which were opened in the same period, being fed with small value transactions exactly within a range of investments amounts offered in android applications, aggregate credit turnover exceeding Rs. 550 million.

All the account holders were in their early thirties belonging to the same region while having moderate educational level as maintaining either photo accounts or with shaky immature signatures. Basically, benami accounts were opened to route the funds of investments received from the public through applications. Two of these accounts were already under investigation by LEA.

Further, as per Google Play Store comments on these applications numerous users have reported that these applications are fraud and scam, similar activity have also been observed on a social media page or group in name of “P Trade”.

The findings were shared with FIA and all the reported individuals are under investigation.