On Friday, August 7, Rapper Badshah appeared before the crime branch officials in Mumbai where he was questioned for about 9 hours, officials informed. Badshah was, reportedly, questioned with regards to the fake social media followers racket case. In mid-July, somewhere around 14th, Mumbai police had busted an international racket that involved creation of fake profiles on social media, other fraudulent activities in social media marketing business and got hold of one person connected to it, now identified as Kashif Mansoor.
On investigating further, it was revealed that the accused is a part of a bigger fraud racket that functions globally. Creating crores of fake identities on various social media platforms and making fake performance statistics like fake followers, fake comments, fake views, etc. were their activities to inflate the influencers’ performance statistics.
The matter saw light when Bhoomi Trivedi, Bollywood Playback singer, in early July, filed a case seeking help of the police, demanding action for a fake account created in her name and approaching film personalities and celebrities. Mumbai Police Commissioner, Param Bir Singh, had said that this is the first time such a racket with international ramifications has been busted in the country, and such fake profiles and followers are also being used to create rumours and panic in the society.
In hopes to find connections to the complaint lodged by Bhoomi, Mumbai police also arrested Abhishek Dawade, who worked for a company named, Followers kart. The company provided more than 700 services in about 80 different categories. These services were linked to many social media platforms including YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Telegram, LinkedIn, Spotify, and Sound Cloud.
It is now known that the CEO of Chtrbox, Pranay Swaroop, who is an accused in the fake social media followers case, has over 30,000 clients, according to Mumbai police. Chtrbox is one of the leading social media influencers marketing companies which was, time and again, accused of leaking private data of as many as 49 million Instagram users in 2019. The company allegedly, provided fake likes, comments, views, re-tweets, subscribers, and followers to its customers on social media platforms and earned in dollars. Apart from India, the company was also going strong in Russia, America, Britain, France, Italy, and Israel.
Mumbai police had demanded Pranay to submit the list of the clients by July 28. Mumbai police has also summoned social media influencer Ankit Arora and actress Aashi Sharma, who are doubted to be one of the clients of Kashif Mansoor.
Ankit and Aashi have over 6 to 8 lakh fake followers. Kashif who served the two and was arrested, used to operate a website www.amvsmm.com, and his company used to provide fake followers. On July 24, both Pranay and his wife, Julie and Fashion Blogger, Ankit Arora were arrested by the Mumbai police.
The Mumbai police have, so far found as many as 200 high-profile Bollywood personalities who have allegedly paid to gain followers. It has interrogated nearly 20 personalities in the case.