Hyderabad: A new wave of hacking and cyber fraud is doing the rounds, wherein international criminals illegally access WhatsApp work groups to get users’ information and impersonate group administrators to seek funds transfer from other members through personal messages.
As many as 30 such complaints, from 15 government and private firm employees each, have been registered with the cybercrime police since January 2022. The frauds have amounted to over Rs 20 lakh in total, the police said.
The fraudsters mostly operate from Nigeria, Russia and China, the police said.
Explaining the modus operandi, assistant commissioner of police (ACP) K.V.M. Prasad, of the cybercrime division, said that criminals access the groups, use the administrator’s picture as their WhatsApp display picture and send messages.
Citing one such instance, Prasad said that a victim received a message of “I need Rs 2 lakh immediately” from an account bearing an international number, but having the display picture of his boss. Most victims do not verify the number due to the picture of their seniors being used, Prasad said.
“The fraudsters are highly trained. They do not leave evidence; they do not transfer the money to bank accounts, but instead, convert the money into gift vouchers and sell the same to customers in other countries at a 30 per cent discount,” Prasad said, adding that efforts are on to identify them.
Prasad said that cases under sections 66(C) and 66(D) of the IT Act, of fraudulent impersonation, and sections 419 and 428 of the IPC are registered in such instances.
Further, he said that fraudsters did not seek large amounts as they believed that the police pressure would be less if the frauds were relatively smaller in magnitude....