The next time you receive a gift from a prospective groom or a bride or a friend, whom you have only met online, be wary of their intentions.
A 34-year-old employee of a sports channel learnt this lesson the hard way after being duped of Rs 16 lakh by a fraudster. The victim registered an FIR at the RAK Marg police station last week.
In her complaint, the Sewri resident claimed she had met the crook six months ago on a renowned matrimonial website. She said they started chatting regularly and became close over the following months. It was during one such online conversation that she accepted his marriage proposal.
The con job
Elaborating the fraudster’s modus operandi, a police officer said, “A month ago, he told the woman that he had sent her a gift worth over Rs 3 crore. A few days later, the fraudster told her that the package was confiscated by the Custom officials over a pending duty of Rs 16 lakh. He then asked her to deposit the amount into his account so that he could do the needful.”
The officer added that initially the victim refused to pay stating that she did not have the money. However, he threatened that she could be jailed if she did not pay because the address on the package belonged to her and the Customs officials would come looking for her if the taxes were not paid in time. Petrified, the woman raised the money by borrowing from her friends. She even had to sell off her belongings.
Smelling a rat
A few days later, the fraudster again demanded Rs 4 lakh, stating there was another tax to be paid. Sensing that something was amiss, she sought help from one of her friends. It was the friend who told her she was being duped and must seek police help immediately.
A police officer said, “The woman saw pictures of the fraudster, which we suspect aren’t his, following which they began chatting. He claimed to be a doctor at a top hospital in the UK. Her mistake was that she trusted him blindly.”
Sub-inspector Ajay Birajdar from RAK Marg police station said an FIR had been registered last week, and the fraudster was booked under relevant sections of the IPC and the IT Act. “His account is still active. We suspect the fraudster has duped other women as well. Always be wary while befriending people online. Never trust an online friend until you meet him/her personally. If that person seeks monetary help, understand that he or she is a fraudster,” he added.