It is common for fraudsters to pose as friends or family members and call or message their victims. According to the scammer, the victim is faced with an emergency situation and requested money from the individual. This entire conversation appears to be real. The majority of these calls and messages are fake and fraudsters are taking advantage of innocent victims to defraud them of their hard-earned money.

It is well known that such communications are fraudulent, so they are often ignored. Sadly, many people make the mistake of believing this to be true, resulting in them losing their hard-earned money.

Mumbai Crime: Man duped of Rs 8 lakh by a Facebook friend

According to reports, a 42-year-old Bhayandar resident working for a shipping company was duped by an NRI woman whose sister was stuck in Mumbai due to COVID-19 lockdown. Apparently, the woman told the man that her sister was in dire need of money since she was alone in the city. He fell into the trap and lost over Rs 8 lakh in the process.

The victim RN Borges told police that he gets three months' leave during his nine months of sailing for his job. His return to his home was however sooner than planned due to the global pandemic. The last week of June, Borges said, a woman named Rose Smith sent him a friend request on Facebook.

The request was accepted by Borges, who assumed she had met him on the ship. After exchanging numbers, they developed a close friendship. Smith later told Borges that Vivian, her sister, was trapped in Mumbai because of the lockdown and needed money.

It was promised that the woman would repay him. He was even given a bank account number and asked to immediately send money. In the end, Borges paid Rs 8.25 lakh to various accounts over the course of a few days.

After he demanded his money back, both Smith and Vivian blocked his number. Borges then filed an official complaint with the police. In response to Borges' complaint, the Uttan police charged Rose Smith and Vivian under Sections 34 (acts committed by several individuals for a common purpose) and 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code.

"We are learning more about the bank accounts in which the victim deposited money," a senior officer said. Furthermore, he warned social media users against accepting random requests from strangers.

Also Check: Man Lost ₹1.81 Lakh to Medicine Supplier Fraud

How to avoid this kind of fraud?

1. Ensure that you check a person's background you met on social media before getting close to him/her.

2. Any individual showing urgency or not waiting for a reasonable amount of time is likely to be a scammer.

3. People take advantage of social media platforms to cheat innocent people and make quick money, so you should never lend money to someone you meet on these sites.

4. 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.

5. 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 #205. 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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