Fraudsters claiming to represent police can defraud you: Scam alert | #datingscams | #lovescams

Online scams, often known as internet scams, have been an issue since the early days of the internet, but they have become more prevalent over time, with scammers constantly developing new ways to defraud people. Worryingly, our smartphones have increased our vulnerability to these attacks. In an attempt to collect financial or other vital personal information, cybercriminals may approach potential victims via personal or business email accounts, social networking sites, dating apps, or other techniques. Many effective online scams have the same outcome: the victim loses their money.

A Twitter user Geetika Rustagi recently fell prey to one such online scam. The user, who is the community engagement editor at Hindustan Times, shared her ordeal in a long thread of tweets posted on January 10, Tuesday, wherein she detailed how she was scammed by a man pretending to be an employee of FedEx, an American courier service company.

Rustagi began by describing how she received a call this morning from a number claiming to be from FedEx ‘customer service,’ alerting her that a package linked to her Aadhar ID had been flagged because it contained some illegal items.

She was informed that the package, which they claimed was sent on December 13, 2022, from Mumbai, besides other items contained 800 gms of weed. Here the Twitter user confirmed that she had not sent any such parcel as she did not even live in Mumbai.

Rustagi was told that her call would be patched to the Mumbai Police Cyber Cell since her parcel contained illegal items. She panicked, a natural psychological reaction in such situations that scammers capitalize on.

The victim continued revealing how the so-called Fed Ex customer care transferred her call to the department SI Naresh Gupta Banerjee, the ID of whom was shared with her on Whatsapp. Here again, there is no proof whether this fellow actually belongs to the department or not.

The ID of the so-called Mumbai Police Cyber Cell SI shared with the victim

The so-called SI tried to intimidate the victim by informing her that her statement was being recorded. He also told her that his department had received CCTV footage of the warehouse where the parcel was dropped.

The victim revealed how the SI pretended to talk to his colleagues to find out whether her Aadhar was being misused. He then went on to tell her that her Aadhar was being used to open several bank accounts across SBI, Yes Bank and Citibank Bank.

“Several millions of dollars are being laundered through these accounts, and your ID is being used for hawala transactions. All this is being orchestrated by someone called Gerold, who has been arrested by Mumbai Police. These screen grabs were shared by the above guy,” she wrote.

‘Confidentiality’ document sent to intimidate the victim into silence

Giving further insights into how the fraudster skilfully convinced her into believing his deception, Geetika Rustagi wrote how the person sent her a document, which made her a party to the case and barred her from speaking to anyone.

He then asked me how many bank accounts I had and how much money I had. Have I received any big amount lately? Have you been contacted by anyone to open a bank account? etc He then assured me the case would be closed in 20-30 minutes if I cooperate,” she tweeted.

The scamster then asked the victim to transfer Rs 95,499 to them to verify whether her accounts have been compromised and verify account details. They assured her that they would refund the money in 15 minutes. They told her to remain on the call till the transaction came through.

When the victim hesitated to transfer the large sum and asked for a guarantee, the fraudster immediately sent her a copy of a so-called acknowledgement receipt she would get after she transfers the amount.

Scamsters used a counterfeit government stamp to convince their legitimacy

A closer examination of the so-called acknowledgement receipt reveals how the fraudsters utilised a stamp similar to the actual government stamp to make it appear to be a legitimate government document. Not only this, but the receipt also has a watermark of the State Emblem, which the Government of India uses as a stamp on its official documents for official usage.

When the victim declined to send the money, the imposter threatened to freeze her bank accounts for 2-3 years, she said. He also tried to threaten her by telling her that she had to pay or come in person to the Mumbai department. The fraudster hung up on the victim after she agreed to travel to Mumbai.

The victim here was fortunate to avoid the trap, but not everyone is. Despite the police busting multiple cyber crimes, many fraudsters continue to trick unsuspecting individuals into giving away their money and personal information. We come across these things on a daily basis and yet some fall for such a trap despite regular warnings from banks, service providers, and the central bank.

According to the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), cybercrime increased by 306% in India between 2016 and 2020. Furthermore, due to the number of cybercrimes, roughly 66% of cases recorded each year are pending investigation, putting the onus on each netizen to protect themselves from such cybercrimes.

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