In India, online marriage websites have replaced traditional marriage brokers. In order to use a matrimonial website, you must register on the site and upload your profile. Your profile will be visible to other users, and you can find matches based on your preferences. Many people have found their ideal matches on matrimonial websites.

A woman in Mumbai was duped of RS 5.54 Lakh in a matrimonial scam

Girgaum-based telephone operator, 36, got duped into sending Rs 5.54 lakh to a 'foreign national' who had met her through a Marathi matrimonial app.

During an interview with the police, the woman, who works at a builder's office in Bandra, explained that she had registered on a Marathi matrimonial app in June. She received a WhatsApp message from Sandip Raut in September, in which he expressed interest in marrying her. During the conversation with the complainant, Raut claimed he was a resident of California, United States of America, and had obtained her details from the matrimonial site.

In the course of chatting with Raut for a few days, he told her that he would send her gifts worth Rs 57,000 through Kings Cargo Courier, and he also provided her with a link to the courier company.

The complainant received an email from Kings Cargo Courier stating that her parcel had been ready for shipping and that it was going to be delivered the following day. Furthermore, the company provided her with the name of the delivery agent, Aparna KR, as well as the details of her bank account, informing her that the delivery would be delayed until she paid Rs 57,000. It was explained to the woman that the refund would be made after the delivery of the parcel.

She transferred the money through mobile banking but received a second email the same day stating that the parcel contained US dollars, which were illegal to be sent to India. Additionally, the letter stated that she had to get government approval or pay Rs 1.55 lakh and a fine of Rs 16,000 as late fees.

Despite the complainant sending the a cheque for Rs 1.55 lakh, the woman received yet another email on September 10 stating that she would have to pay a total of Rs 3.36 lakh, which is the equivalent of the dollars in the parcel. After doing the necessary, the woman received an email that confirmed the parcel had reached India.

She received an email on Tuesday saying that an additional amount of Rs 9.55 lakh must be paid to get the parcel.

As she didn't have that much money, the complainant contacted Raut, who advised her to delete her matrimony registration immediately. She followed Raut's instructions, but when she asked for money, Raut said that the courier company had scammed her and he had nothing to do with it. Raut then stopped answering her calls or responding to her messages.

The woman realized she had been cheated and approached the police. At the VP Road police station, an offense was registered based on her complaint.

Also Check: A Mumbai resident was scammed and lost Rs.4 lakh

How to avoid this kind of fraud?

1. Ensure that you check a person's background before getting close to him/her on a matrimonial site. 

2. People take advantage of these matrimonial sites to cheat innocent people and make quick money, so you should never lend money to someone you meet on these sites. Often, fraudsters try to trick you by claiming that they are in a difficult situation or that they need money to clear gifts from customs. Don't be fooled by these kinds of tricks.

3. It is recommended that digital escrow platforms be used for payment. When making an online payment with Escrow, you do not share your financial information with anyone. There is a platform for escrow called Vouch.

How does digital escrow work?

In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller fulfills the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.

Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process. 

There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.

This is Fraud Story #197. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!

Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation. 

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