Pune: Online fraudsters posing as Indian Army and defence personnel to exploit the trust associated with the Armed Forces are cropping up once again, cybercrime experts and officials of the city police’s cyber cell told TOI on Wednesday.“The scamsters contact landlords who have posted ‘house for rent’ ads on online marketing websites. By presenting themselves as defence personnel and sharing fake Army ID cards with uniformed photographs, they gain the victims’ trust. Subsequently, they deceive the landlords into transferring money, purportedly for renting the property. This tactic exploits the goodwill linked to the Armed Forces to deceive individuals and acquire money,” Sandip Gadiya, Cyber Crime Investigation Expert.These scamsters even share fake Army IDs with the victims. “They claim to like the property and say that they would right away pay the security deposit. They then share a link with the victim, which in reality is not a link to send money but to fraudulently get money. I have seen nearly 50-60 such cases in the last 2-3 months where police have asked me to investigate,” said Gadiya.Shweta Chawla, a digital forensic investigator and head at the Pune-based SC Cyber Solutions Private Limited, told TOI, “The method of operation of what is often called the Army-OLX fraud is fairly simple. It starts with the victim placing an ad on OLX for the sale or rent of something. The victim is quickly approached by a prospective buyer/tenant who is happy to pay the asking price but is in a hurry to procure the product.”She said, “The ‘buyer’ insists on paying via UPI, but not the UPI the victim uses. The ‘buyer’ then sends the victim a QR code on the UPI the victim is unfamiliar with. Here, the process deviates — the QR code could be used to withdraw money or to install a remote access or screen sharing app. All this while the buyer keeps calling the victim and distracting them.”A senior official from the Pune police cyber cell said, “We know that such cybercrimes are resurfacing. The cases are being reported at local police stations rather than the cyber cell, as the money lost so far has been less than Rs2.5 lakh per case.”Sethuraman Subramanian, employed in a software company, recently listed his property for rent. “I got a call from one scamster, a self-claimed army personnel urgently seeking Pune accommodation for his family. Sharing IDs to establish trust, he pushed for finalization, citing an army HR handling the deposit. I got a subsequent call from another number, claiming to be the HR person, who urged me to add his bank details on Google Pay, citing army protocol,” he said.Subramanian declined as he smelled a rat. “The self-proclaimed army person kept persisting, stressing (army) credibility. Seeking more proof, I asked for his salary slip, questioning affordability with his Rs34,000 monthly pay. He referred to army housing allowances. Despite pressure, I stood my ground, saying the flat was taken,” he said.