Techie Returns From US to Combat Cyber Frauds With AI, Bags Rs 1 Crore Deal on Shark Tank India
‘Panoplia.io’ rebranded to raptorX.ai is an AI-based cybersecurity firm launched in May 2023 that is helping businesses guard themselves against cyber malware and fraudulent systems. Here's the story of the entrepreneur behind it.
One wrong click, a fraudulent payment gateway, and thousands swiped from a bank account.
All in a matter of a few seconds.
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No one is a stranger to the colossal universe of online frauds, each with a more believable bait than the previous. Pratyusha Vemuri, a security leader from Mumbai, had her fair share of these. However, it was an incident in 2021 that provoked her to turn the frequent problem into a booming business idea.
Her brainchild ‘Panoplia.io’, rebranded to raptorX.ai, launched in May 2023 is an AI-based cybersecurity firm that is coming up with solutions and apps to provide businesses and individuals freedom from the clutches of online scams while improving the security of financial transactions in the digital space.
The idea won favour from the judges on Shark Tank Season 3, where it struck a deal of Rs 1 crore for 2.5 percent equity.
As for the road ahead, Pratyusha says she is looking to channel the funds into offering B2B services and building a strong team. Looking back on the journey that led her to this point, Pratyusha recalls being the victim of a scam.
The swing that never saw the light of day
In 2021, having just returned from the United States where she was working in security divisions leading product teams in multinational companies such as Microsoft and Akamai, Pratyusha recalls wanting to deck up her home for Diwali festivities that year.
She was in search of the perfect swing. And lo and behold, a website online seemed to offer just the one she was looking for. “Since it was Diwali, the swing was being sold at a discount of 40 percent. It was a good deal,” she recounts.
Diwali came and went. But the swing did not turn up.
That’s when it dawned on Pratyusha that she’d been scammed. “I’m usually careful because of my background in security systems,” she explains. The fact that the website was ‘Google sponsored’ led her to believe that it was a safe site. But as she discovered while building raptorX.ai, several factors deemed a website’s authenticity — some that could be easily missed out on no matter how careful one is.
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Defined as ‘the fraudulent practice of sending emails or other messages purporting to be from reputable companies to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers’, phishing is more rampant today than ever before.
The rise in digital transactions and purchases is to blame.
According to a survey by Norton LifeLock in 2020, Rs 1.24 trillion was lost in India in the preceding 12 months due to cybercrimes, with 63 percent of victims incurring a financial loss.
But the question begs to be asked, if people are aware of phishing practices, how are so many still being scammed? Why has the recent past seen an erosion of trust in online transactions?
“People tend to overlook the finer nuances,” answers Pratyusha.
“Every message has a source. I’d suggest looking at the source and the details of the message clearly. If it is a website, along with ensuring the site is secure, also check the contact information provided. Try getting in touch with them to check the legitimacy, take a look at their policies.”
But juggling all of this while shopping online is a task, agrees the techie.
“It is a big list of things, but since we are all strapped for time, AI can be used to run an algorithm that can predict the fraudulent nature of websites or SMSes,” she notes.
And this is where raptorX.ai comes in to accelerate the process.
AI that serves as your eyes
The road to building the AI-based cybersecurity firm was fraught with learning. The gamut of online frauds was many, Pratyusha discovered — credit card frauds, UPI frauds, refund frauds, spoofing, identity theft, scam pop-up alerts, etc.
Thus, raptorX.ai’s solution works on an algorithm where it assesses a website’s Alexa Rank (a reliable indicator to judge the website’s popularity based on the volume of website visitors in a given time frame). “The popularity of a website can be a key indicator of how reliable it is,” says Pratyusha. The next aspect is social media activity.
“Scam websites are often not too bothered by this, as it takes effort and resources to maintain social media pages. Therefore our algorithm can check if a site has active social media accounts and will adjust the score accordingly.”
The performance of a website is another parameter judged by raptorX.ai. “Scammers have sloppy, inefficient websites. Our algorithm takes this into account and will reduce the score based on poor performance in this area.”
She adds, “We also look at the security of the website; when the security cert was issued and when it expires along with any known malware on it.”
She goes on to add that certain markers suggest whether a business is genuine or not. These include transparent company data — “Genuine businesses usually have nothing to hide and do not hide their company data from the registration” and age of the website — “Scam sites are usually run as ‘hit-and-run’ operations, meaning that the site is created with the intention of being quickly shut down by the owners after scamming a lot of customers”.
In time, the scope of raptorX.ai’s solutions is only set to increase, says Pratyusha. This is in line with the boom that the global Fraud Detection and Prevention (FDP) market is witnessing.
As of 2023, the Fraud Detection and Prevention market was valued at approximately $44 billion and poised for substantial growth over the next five years.
A report published in Fortune Business Insights states that the sector is estimated to reach a size of $180 billion by 2030. This will impact all sectors ranging from banking and financial services — a primary target for fraud — to retail and eCommerce. Even healthcare will be positively impacted. AI will step in to safeguard patient data, and insurance claims, and also be instrumental in medical fraud detection.
Pratyusha adds, “Our company, raptorX.ai, has its own patented AI which can detect fraudulent rings almost instantly and process real-time data to detect all complex frauds. It also provides an extensive understanding of users so businesses can make better and innovative decisions on their products and increase top-line revenue and reduce customer churn.”
“Frauds are very nuanced and industries need nuanced solutions to prevent frauds. It is even more critical in India and APAC as there are so many businesses coming online and they are exposed to more fraud than malware!”
Another service by raptorX.ai is the AI Kavach app, which scours a user’s phone when downloaded and points out scam messages and websites.
Pratyusha calls it a one-stop solution to all cybersecurity qualms. “A user can download the app, pay as low as 99 Rs/year, and give the necessary transparent permissions to detect fraud websites and messages real-time on the phone.”
The app has been delisted for a few months based on Shark Tank’s feedback and will soon be available for download. The current focus is on scaling the B2B services.
As for Pratyusha, she is thrilled at the journey ahead. “I took a problem and decided to channel my expertise to come up with a solution. I’m glad it can help many.”
Edited by Padmashree Pande.
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