Visakhapatnam: Accepting a Facebook friendship request cost a 35-year-old woman Rs 46.3 lakh.
Sirisha (name changed), a postgraduate from Vizag city, paid money in the name of processing fees to receive a parcel containing expensive gifts including smartphones, laptops and a few items worth Rs 61 lakh in all, and to get placed in the UK.
By the time she realised that she had fallen victim to cyber fraudsters, it was too late. The victim approached the city police after Oscar Miller, a Facebook friend of hers who had claimed to be a resident of UK, stopped replying to her messages and phone calls.
The police said that Sirisha had accepted a friendship request from Oscar Miller in January 2017. Within a few days of becoming virtual friends, Miller told her that he had sent her a parcel containing expensive gifts, despite her resistance. A little later Sirisha received a phone call from an anonymous number. The person on the phone claimed to be the parcel delivery boy. He asked her to pay Rs 1.27 lakh to release the gift sent by Oscar.
Sirisha deposited the amount into two different bank accounts. Later, she deposited some more money, but she didn’t receive the parcel. Meanwhile, Miller kept messaging her, saying that there had been some delay in the delivery, but the gifts would reach her soon.
Though Sirisha tried to put an end to her virtual friendship with Miller, the fraudster persisted. During their chats, she revealed to him that she had been looking to be placed in the UK.
N. Prabhakar, the inspector of Airport Police Station, said that the cyber-criminal decided to take advantage of her weakness and asked her to deposit some more money, for a UK visa, saying that he would be able to get her a job there with help from a friend in Delhi.
Between January and May 2017, Sirisha ended up giving Miller `46.3 lakh. Only a few weeks ago did she realise that she had been duped.
Mr Prabhakar said that a case had been registered and transferred to the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) of Vizag.
V. Gopinath, the inspector of the CCIC, said, “Recently, we sent a request to the social networking giant, Facebook, to preserve the account records and to share some concrete information about the profile. We have been investigating the case from multiple angles, including looking into bank account details, to solve the case.”