A senior citizen in Bengaluru has been defrauded of Rs 1.52 crore in the widespread courier scam wherein perpetrators make phone calls claiming to be police officials who have intercepted parcels with contraband material. As part of their modus operandi, the fraudsters ask the victims to transfer large amounts of funds to be cleared of drug trafficking and money laundering charges.
According to a complaint registered with the South CEN police station by senior citizen Debashish Das, 66, he received a call on November 10 from a person who identified himself as FedEx courier firm worker Kartikeya. The ‘courier firm worker’ claimed that a case had been registered against Das in Mumbai over a courier sent in his name to Taiwan with five expired passports, six credit cards, and 950 gram of the illegal MDMA drug.
Das was told that a police case had been registered with the Andheri cybercrime police station in Mumbai and he was asked to get in touch with an Andheri police officer on a Skype call.
When the senior citizen downloaded Skype and used a link that he was sent, a man identifying himself as Mumbai cybercrime branch police officer ‘Pradeep Sawant’ was on the other end of the video call.
The senior citizen was told that some persons had opened fake bank accounts in his name for money laundering and that to obtain clearance from money laundering charges he would have to send the details of all his bank accounts to a deputy commissioner of police.
A person pretending to be a DCP then told Das to close all his fixed deposit and savings accounts and to transfer the funds in these accounts to a bank account designated by the ‘DCP’.
Trusting the person who pretended to be a DCP, the 66-year-old man transferred Rs 1.52 crore through RTGS from his State Bank of India account to a Punjab National Bank account. The fraudsters who claimed that they would send back the money within 30 to 40 minutes after verifying whether money laundering was involved did not respond once the money was transferred, the victim has alleged.
The senior citizen is the latest victim of widespread fraud wherein the identities of law enforcement agencies like the Mumbai police, the NCRB, and the CBI are being used to cheat the gullible.
In June this year, a software engineer and his wife, a faculty at the Indian Institute of Management, Bengaluru, fell prey to a cyber fraud featuring fake policemen and a fake courier service. The software engineer reported the loss of Rs 33.24 lakh while the IIMB faculty member reported the loss of Rs 1.73 lakh.
The software engineer, 39, filed a complaint on June 29 with the Bengaluru police stating that he received calls from a person claiming to be with the FedEx courier service to state that a parcel sent in his name to Taiwan had been seized by the Mumbai police for containing illegal items. The phone call was subsequently transferred to a person impersonating a Mumbai deputy commissioner of police who claimed that a money laundering case had been registered against the techie.
The techie was asked to join a Skype call with the ‘DCP’ and was told to transfer funds to various accounts with his Aadhaar number and photos in order to verify his credentials. The ‘DCP’ who threatened dire consequences claimed that the money deposited in various accounts would be transferred back to the techie after verifications. A total amount of Rs 33,24,859 was transferred.
In the wake of a deluge of cybercrimes being reported in Bengaluru, the city police have decided to categorise cybercrimes under four specific groups with four officers of the rank of deputy commissioner of police designated to supervise the crimes in each category.
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As many as 250 cases involving fake courier fraud have been reported in Bengaluru this year. The Bengaluru police announced last week that the investigation of these cases along with three other types of common cyber fraud – Aadhaar Enabled Payment Services fraud (116 cases), WhatsApp sextortion (115 cases), and online job fraud (4,607 cases) – would be prioritised for investigations.
The DCP North-East will head the team investigating the AEPS frauds, the DCP Traffic East will head the team probing the FedEx courier frauds, the DCP Traffic North will supervise the probes into cases of sextortion and the DCP Traffic South will supervise investigations of online job frauds, the Bengaluru police commissioner said Friday.
“The designated DCPs must ensure that the cybercrimes in their supervision are probed properly and must coordinate with the nodal officers in banks and the central government’s Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) to find cyber criminals and recover funds lost by victims,” Bengaluru Police Commissioner B Dayananda said.