Government warns dating and matrimonial app users, says do not take any expensive gifts from online lovers | #datingscams | #lovescams | #facebookscams

New Delhi,UPDATED: Aug 11, 2023 14:51 IST

In the past few months, India has witnessed a rapid rise in cases of online scams. Scammers are using new ways to trick people and are using almost every online platform to bait innocent individuals. Be it UPI apps, YouTube, Instagram, Telegram, travel websites, and more. But that’s not it. Now, these scammers are using dating and matrimonial websites to target victims, and this time their net is more than just asking for clicking a link or giving online tasks.

Scammers are reportedly using dating and matrimonial sites to trick innocent victims into their love trap and then make them pay money under the pretext of sending expensive gifts. Reportedly, around two-thirds of Indian adults (66 per cent) have fallen victim to an online dating/romance scam, and victims have lost an average of Rs 7,966.

The scam is becoming so widespread that recently, the Ministry of Finance has issued an advisory related to matrimonial dating scams. According to the ministry, scammers are now targeting Indians with a scam wherein they ask the victim to pay customs duty to collect expensive gifts sent by their “friends or lover” they met online or “matches” from matrimony websites.

The ministry has warned individuals about this scam and has asked them to be aware. The government has also clarified that no official from the Indian Customs department calls or sends SMSs asking for payment of customs duty in personal accounts.

“Beware of fraudsters extorting money in the name of Indian Customs! Indian Customs never calls or send SMS for paying Customs Duty in a personal bank account. All communications from Indian Customs contain a DIN which can be verified on the CBIC website,”reads the official advisory on X (formally Twitter).

The advisory has further asked citizens to exercise extreme caution and scepticism while engaging in online dating. They also urge individuals to avoid sharing personal and financial information with strangers on these platforms. By raising awareness about the scam’s modus operandi, the government aims to arm citizens with the necessary knowledge to protect themselves from falling prey to such fraudulent activities.

What is matrimonial or dating scam

In matrimonial or dating scam, scammers create fake profiles on dating websites to manipulate victims emotionally and financially. These scammers take advantage of individuals who are unsuspecting and trusting, using different methods to trick them.

This scam typically starts with the scammer building an emotional bond with the victim through personal conversations. Once a connection is established, the scammer then asks the victim for money, citing reasons like emergencies, travel expenses, or fake investment opportunities.

In India, many people have been reportedly tricked into giving money to people they met online who they thought were their friends or romantic partners.

In one of the recently reported cases, a woman from Kerala was scammed of Rs 8 lakh by an individual she befriended on Facebook. It all began when she started communicating with a person who claimed to be her friend from the UK. Over a few weeks, the scammer gradually shared details about an expensive gift he had supposedly purchased for her.

Despite her initial reluctance, the scammer persisted and convinced her to give her mailing address. Soon after, she received a phone call informing her that the gift package was held up at customs. To release the package, she was instructed to transfer money to a specific account. Subsequently, she was contacted multiple times, each time being asked to pay varying amounts of money. The package, according to the scammer, contained Rs 40 lakh and an iPhone.

Eventually, she realised that she had been deceived. However, when she tried to reach out to her ‘Facebook friend’ about the situation, he avoided her and expressed a desire not to be disturbed.

Published On:

Aug 11, 2023

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