‘E’ for extortion on the web of online dating- The New Indian Express #nigeria | #nigeriascams | #lovescams

Express News Service

CHENNAI: Here, just the heart is involved, not the brain!  

The increase in the number of online dating apps has opened up a new avenue for fraudsters to cheat unsuspecting ‘pleasure seekers’, for the perpetrators play the strings that are ‘seldom’ touched upon – romance and sex. And, in many a case, the ‘seekers’ end up losing their hard earned money, at times, even to the tune of lakhs of rupees. 

As a digital screen hides the real face of both the victim and the fraudster on the websites or apps, churning out stories and creating fake identities have become very easy. Sources said the fraudsters extort money under the pretext of fixing dates or arranging meet-ups, and the victims keep paying them until they realise they are being cheated. “Most of the victims realise the fraud only after the response from the other end stops. By the time, the fraudsters would have made a ‘fortune’,” they said. 

The plight of a sexagenarian in Chennai who lost a whopping Rs 37 lakh to online dating fraud, a few weeks ago, calls for a detailed introspection. A senior police officer, attached to the cybercrime department, said the incident happened in December. After Balu (name changed) logged in to two bogus dating websites, a man called over phone and introduced him to a ‘woman’.

The sexagenarian struck a deal with the man and agreed to pay an amount every time the woman calls or meets him. It’s only after spending lots of money for calls and meetings, which never happened, that Balu realised he was being cheated.  

“When a person searches online for dating websites or mobile applications, they go to these fake ones accidently. Some people get in touch with the fraudsters by replying to the text messages on their phones that claim ‘contact us to talk to the love of your life’,” the police officer said. 

The officer said the modus operandi of fraudsters in all such scams is similar. “We have received around 10 complaints of similar incidents. We are conducting investigations and are yet to make arrests,” she said, adding in case of any financial crimes, people can contact the number 1930 to lodge complaints or can go to the website www.cybercrime.gov.in.

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