In Malad, a nurse lost 17.5 lakh to a cyber fraud group that befriended her on Facebook, with one of them pretending to be a doctor from London. Under the guise of sending the victim expensive gifts and jewelry worth Rs 49 lakh, the alleged doctor defrauded her by making her pay Rs 17.5 lakh for clearance of the gift parcel at the airport.
Facebook 'friend' scams Mumbai nurse out of Rs 17.5 lakh in cybercrime
During the month of March, the complainant received a friend request on Facebook from Alex Wilfred, who claimed to be a doctor from London. The complainant accepted the request and the two shared phone numbers, and they began chatting frequently thereafter.
Wilfred contacted her on August 17 and told her that he had sent her a surprise gift. In an hour, Anjali Sharma, posing as a cargo official, called her, saying she was posted at Delhi's Indira Gandhi international airport.
Sharma informed the complainant that a parcel had arrived in her name and it contained Rs 35 lakh cash and 14 lakh worth of gold jewelry. However, she will have to pay Rs 30,000 in courier charges to clear the parcel. Following that, she shared bank details with the complainant.
Sharma called her again the next day and informed her that the parcel contained an excessive amount of cash and that she was required to pay an additional Rs 1.10 lakh as a penalty. In the following weeks, Sharma repeatedly called her to make her pay for the Anti-Money Laundering Certificate, GST Certificate, and Income Tax Certificate.
She received an email from the fraudster on August 27 indicating that it was from the RBI and insisted that she pay more money using some code that is required to recover the parcel from abroad. According to the complaint, after the complainant paid the money, she received another email allegedly from RBI asking her again to make another payment to receive the mandatory tax code.
Due to exhausting all her savings, the complainant did not make any payment. The complainant also borrowed money from relatives and friends to make the payments. The woman yelled at Wilfred and told him to return whatever money she spent. Alfred assured her that he would return all her money on August 31 when he comes to India with money. Additionally, he sent her photos of his air tickets and pictures of himself on the flight.
Wilfred called the complainant on August 31 to inform her that he had been arrested at the Delhi international airport for carrying large quantities of cash. To get him released, he asked her to pay a penalty charge of Rs 5.40 lakh.
When the complainant felt something was off, she made a video call to him. However, he did not receive the video call. She realized that she had been duped by fraudsters after Wilfred cut off all communication with her. Unfortunately, the complainant had already lost Rs 17.5 lakh by then. A complaint was filed against the fraudster at the Malad police station on Friday.
An FIR was registered by Malad police against Wilfred, Sharma, and others under various sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act, sections 66c and 66d.
How to avoid this type of fraud -
1. Unsolicited offers received via email, text messages, phone calls, or other means should be discarded.
2. If you receive a call from someone who claims to be a lottery representative, do not pay an advance fee.
3. There are a lot of 'phishing' incidents taking place on social media. Be careful when accepting requests that appear suspicious.
4. 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 #202. 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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