Impostors defraud, loot gullible

Hyderabad: After well-disguised frauds, pyramid-like schemes and click-to-pay earnings, cyberfraudsters are now taking to psychological warfare by impersonating IPS officers and threatening their victims to send money by claiming their involvement in cases of money laundering and trafficking of drugs and humans.

Mostly claiming to be officials of the Mumbai Police or Delhi Police, the fraudsters create a state of fear among their victims using well-rehearsed scripts and deep-fake and AI techniques to prove their authenticity as cops, officials of Central agencies and Customs department at airports, the police said.

As per recent reports, wherein a university professor, a techie and a BPO employee were looted, the fraudsters used Skype calls and forced the victims to send money, claiming to check their source and send it back to the victims.

The police said that tens of such cases have been reported, with victims falling prey to intimidating tactics, fearing for their careers and social standing.

TS Cybersecurity Bureau director M. Stephen Raveendra advised the public to report such suspicious calls, links, mobile phone numbers or any other suspicious content to toll-free helpline 1930 or through WhatsApp on 8712672222.

“Even if there is no loss of money, the bureau will block these links, numbers and take them down. A cyberfraud registry will have all such numbers and links maintained by the bureau to prevent others falling in trap through the same numbers and links,” he said.

In a recently reported case, a victim got a call from a person claiming to be from a Mumbai-based courier agency, informing him that his parcel was flagged by officials as it contained a wallet made of tiger skin.

This sent the victim into a state of panic, following which the caller claimed to hand over the phone to an official of the Mumbai Cybercrime branch, who forced him to get on a Skype call with an ‘IPS officer’, who told him that his name matched with records of a money laundering case and Rs. 2 crore was transferred to a foreign account from his Mumbai-based bank.

Not allowing the victim to even step aside for a minute from the video call, the fraudsters claimed his name cropped up in a top-secret case and that they must not reveal the details to anyone, including their spouse.

As the victim denied having an account in a Mumbai-based bank, the fraudster shared a web link, which claimed to be a Supreme Court site and produced a warrant for payment of an amount, all forged. He was asked to pay a security deposit as well.

In another similar incident, a techie was duped under the pretext of a parcel, booked under his name, having drugs.

In a third such incident over the past fortnight, another victim was duped by callers claiming to have intercepted a parcel containing 52 passports and multiple debit cards, linking him with a gangster and human trafficking.

A police officer said: “In all these cases, the victims are threatened to be on the Skype call for hours together, under the pretext of interrogation. During the call, the victims are asked their family details, bank account details and forced to pay money to clear their names.”

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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