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Mumbai Crime: Senior couple loses Rs 1.5 lakh to swindlers

Updated on: 02 July,2022 08:12 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Hemal Ashar | hemal@mid-day.com

Pay up or power cut scam singes Powai couple who pay up to clear dues

Mumbai Crime: Senior couple loses Rs 1.5 lakh to swindlers

The conman got the victim to download TeamViewer and share bank details. Representation pic

The electricity scam powers on with the list of victims growing longer. Powai couple Dinesh and Anita Raheja, aged 65 and 59, respectively, have become victims of the widespread fraud. Dinesh said, “We want people to know our story. There are several people who have been duped and have spoken about their experience. However, not all patterns are the same. There are tweaks in modus operandi, how the scamsters present themselves, what they speak to their targets. It is important to know the different ways in which they win trust and eventually swindle you.”

The pattern

Anita said, “On June 8, we got a message on my husband’s cell phone that read: ‘Dear customer, your electricity will be disconnected at 9.30 pm on 8/6/22 because your previous month’s bill was not updated.’ I rushed and paid the amount through a well-known payment gateway at the Saki Vihar branch of Tata Power in the morning.”

Dinesh Raheja
Dinesh Raheja

“In the afternoon,” Anita continued, “a person who identified himself as Avinash Verma called my husband about non-payment of bills. When he said we had made the payment, he said that the payment was not reflected in the system and hence electricity would be disconnected by evening.” She said, “He then asked me to share details of my bank account to check if the payment has been made and to ensure that it is reflected in the system, so I shared the details with him.”

Devious designs

Anita added, “Then the caller asked me to download an app called TeamViewer on my phone, and not on Dinesh’s phone. To win my trust he also told me to not share CVV or OTP with him, but asked me to share the same with my husband via SMS. While we were talking, I got messages that Rs 50,000 and Rs 99,800 have been debited from my credit card. When I asked him, he said it was an aberration that took place due to linking my account to the Tata Power system. He kept me engaged in conversation for the next 30 minutes while apologising profusely and assured that the entry would be reversed. I was becoming suspicious and asked him to share his phone number. He shared his number and went off the line. I immediately called the credit card customer care and blocked my card.”

Convincing con

Anita and Dinesh said, “This person was so convincing and so smooth that through the entire conversation we never smelt a rat. It was only after the conversation ended that we realised something was wrong. That is when we blocked the card.” Within two hours, the Rahejas registered a complaint with Powai police. Anita said, “The next day, I submitted the FIR as well as the dispute form to the bank’s Chandivali Branch. The bank told me they would investigate the matter and temporarily credited the outstanding amount after a few days.”

In circles

However, the credit card customer care on June 24 told them that the case has been closed on June 15 and they will have to clear the sum of Rs 1,49,800. The couple said, “The police inspector told us that we should ask the bank to give us a letter confirming that the investigation was over and that the bank was asking to reimburse the amount. But at the end of the day, we had no option but to pay up.” 

Lessons learnt

The Rahejas said that they were aware of the cautionary messages about the scam from the electricity company. “We are telling our story because it is so easy to be conned by these silver-tongued swindlers. We have decided we will not share bank details with anyone. We will ask them to address the issue by email, whatever the threat, power supply switched off or water supply discontinued. When we shared our experience, some friends asked us how we fell for the ruse. Well, we did. But we do not want you to,” the couple said.

Day in June when the couple got the message

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