Mumbai Crime: Conmen make hay on OLX posing as army men
Buyers and sellers pose as Indian army personnel to gain the trust of people they deal with
Cashing in on the sentiments that people have towards those fighting for our country at the border, buyers and sellers on an online marketplace have now started posing as army jawans to con customers. In less than five months, a number of such cases have come to the fore, but the website is yet to release any advisory warning people against this unique modus operandi being followed by the cheaters.
In a recent case, 50-year-old Harish Singh from Dadar West, who owns a travel company, came across an advertisement of an SUV on sale at the site. "I checked the car's specifications and contacted the seller Vikas Patel. He quoted the car's price as R2.10 lakh. He also told me that he was in the Indian Army, and recently got shifted from Pune to Jodhpur. Initially, he asked me to pay R8,440 for sending the car to Maharashtra," said Singh. He further said that on June 28 Patel asked him to pay Rs 21,999 for clearing the vehicle at the Maharashtra border. After Singh transferred the amount, Patel further asked for Rs 33,550 as GST. When he made the payment, Patel called him again and asked to transfer Rs 13,940 as there was a delay in sending the previous amount. After losing a total of Rs 77,929 to Patel, the victim realised that he was being conned. Then he immediately approached the Dadar police station and filed a complaint in the matter. Soon after, the cops registered an FIR against unknown persons.
Sources from the Cyber Cell said that similar cases had been reported across the city in the past couple of months. On June 22, the BKC police registered a case in which a person, who wished to sell his bike, was duped of Rs 1.22 lakh by a man posing as an army jawan. On May 22, a similar offence was registered at Agripada police station in which the customer pretended to be an army man and duped a woman, who wanted to sell her furniture, of Rs 5,000.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, an officer from the Cyber Cell said, "A new modus operandi of cheating people online has emerged in which the buyer or seller poses as an army man, as it helps them gain people's trust and confidence. The Trombay police had registered a case in March in which a conman from Bihar duped two customers by sharing photo ID cards of army men with them. Lack of alertness and not following standard practices lead to this." Police sources said on May 24 a person named Kalpesh Kumar Nigam cheated an Andheri-based advocate of R5,000 in the same manner.
Speaking to mid-day, cyber expert and advisor Mallikarjun Malle, said, "If you are dealing with goods in the same city, then check the item carefully before buying. While inspecting it, transfer a small amount to the person concerned and check whether it's going to him/her. Also find out more about the item and its market price. Be cautious about the items that are being sold at much cheaper rates. This is the only way you can ensure safe deals online."
"The safety of our users is of extreme importance to us. To ensure that our users transact safely, we invest heavily in sensitising them through various channels both on and off the platform. Specifically, we urge our users to avoid travelling to remote areas and exercise caution while placing reliance on identification cards as they could be fake. We have built strong relationships with law enforcement agencies and continuously assist them in bringing fraudsters to justice," said Lavanya Chandan, general counsel, OLX.
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