When it comes to online frauds, elderly people tend to be vulnerable and easy targets. It’s easy for fraudsters to dupe the elderly, and use them to execute their devious plans. Case in point, a 79-year old man from Mulund who fell victim to an online dating scam. He lost more than Rs 1.5 crore, following his interaction with a ‘woman’ he met on a European social media app.
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According to an Indian express report, the man, formerly an engineer with a reputed company, ended up pawning his wife’s jewellery and also tried to sell his house, for the woman he met online.
After getting suspicious of his inquiries on selling properties, his son flew down from the USA, checked his dad’s phone and found out from the chat messages, that his dad was conned.
On realizing that his father was embroiled in a scam, he immediately lodged a police complaint. In his statement to the police, the victim said that he had subscribed to a European social media app, where he met a ‘Spanish’ woman.
The woman cooked up a story of having two children and losing her husband. Over a period of time, they started communicating regularly on WhatsApp and other platforms.
The Indian Express reports that in June this year, the woman told him that she was sending him a parcel containing expensive items like mobile phone, jewellery and laptop. The man refused to accept it, so she told him to give it to orphanages in the city.
In the next few days, the man got a call from a woman posing to be someone from the Customs Department, saying that since the parcel had foreign currency, he would have to pay exchange duty. He made the first payment of Rs 50,000.
He then got another call from the lady who was posing as a customs department employee saying that since the parcel was expensive, the sender needs to personally come down to India.
In the next call, he was informed that the woman was arrested for carrying a lot of money in foreign currency and on the charges of money laundering.
Cases of such ‘romance scams’ have spiked in the last few years. These con artists don’t just rely on technology to get things done, but, in fact, prey on emotional vulnerabilities and behavioral limitations.
In a similar incident that took place in April this year, a 65-year-old Mumbai resident lost all his savings and post-retirement funds in a dating website fraud, where he registered himself to date women for a year.
The worst part about getting trapped in a scam is the denial bit, meaning, most people have a gut feeling that they are being trapped, but they either don’t know what to do, or they just don’t act in time. It’s important to be aware, and make sure that people around you are vigilant too. If someone is asking for money for any service whatsoever, make sure you check their credentials. The technology that they are using to make a fool out of you, you can use it to set them straight.