New Delhi: Mumbai Police Wednesday summoned radio jockey Roshan Abbas and sports commentator Gaurav Kapur in connection with an ongoing investigation over celebrities allegedly buying fake followers on social media.
The alleged racket came to light after Bollywood singer Bhoomi Trivedi found a fake social media profile under her name on Instagram. Actor Koena Mittra also filed a similar complaint last week after she found fake accounts in her name on Instagram and Youtube, which had obscene pictures of her.
During its investigation, the Mumbai Police discovered a company that was providing fake followers for a fee, according to The Indian Express.
Trivedi took to Instagram on 15 July to thank the Mumbai Police for taking prompt action in the matter. Then on 24 July, she posted again explaining what happened: the fake profile was discovered after a choreographer attempting to contact her reached out to her fake profile. In the post, she said the police arrested the man who created the fake profile, and said he had claimed to be in contact with many Bollywood celebrities, offering to increase their followers.
Mumbai Police Commissioner Param Bir Singh had on 16 July announced the formation of Special Investigation Team (SIT), comprising officers from Crime Intelligence Unit and Cyber Cell, under the supervision of Deputy Commissioner of Police (Detection), Nandkumar Thakur.
ThePrint reached out to DCP Thakur through phone calls but did not receive a response until the time of publishing this report.
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Gratitude and endless acknowledgment, @cpmumbaipolice @MumbaiPolice @officeofUT @officeofAUT, @AnilDeshmukhNCP for taking strict and prompt action against the menace of fraud activities prevailing over social media by misguiding , misleading social media platform account holders & users by misusing my name embroiling me. Thank You Sachin Vaze sir and his team for willingly helping me even in the time of Pandemic, looking into the matter and solving the stress. Kudos to The Brave men. #SocialMediaFraud #MumbaiPolice #Gratitude
So far, police recorded the statements of over 20 celebrities who allegedly paid to get followers on social media. According to a report by The Week published last week, actors Priyanka Chopra Jonas and Deepika Padukone are also likely to be summoned.
Chopra Jonas has over 55 million followers on Instagram while Padukone has more than 51 million followers.
The Mumbai police Wednesday reportedly arrested a man identified as Kashif Mansoor for allegedly selling fake followers. According to them, Mansoor was a civil engineer who had completed 25,000 orders and had sold over 2.3 crore fake followers.
The SIT has already found close to 100 companies selling fake social media followers, a report in the Mumbai Mirror stated.
According to a report by ANI, Maharashtra Home Minister Anil Deshmukh assured that the Maharashtra police will investigate the matter. He reportedly said many PR agencies have been buying followers for celebrities, especially those in Bollywood.
“These celebrities try increasing their publicity through these fake followers, however, these BOTs also end up stealing people’s data at times,” Deshmukh reportedly said.
In the Mumbai Mirror article, DCP Thakur was quoted as saying the Mumbai Police SIT had verified 25 people, a few of whom had recorded their statements. He, however, refused to name them as it could hamper the investigation.