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Home > Mumbai > Mumbai News > Article > Mumbai Cyber conmen are promoting themselves

Mumbai: Cyber conmen are promoting themselves!

Updated on: 06 April,2024 05:52 AM IST  |  Mumbai
Faizan Khan |

From playing local police in FedEx scams, they are now moving to impersonating ED and CBI officials, claiming victims are involved in money laundering

Mumbai: Cyber conmen are promoting themselves!

Representation pic

While the ED and CBI are acting against politicians under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, cyber scammers seize the opportunity, intimidating citizens with fake notices from the CBI, ED, Mumbai police, and income tax department, extorting lakhs from them. In a recent case, an IT professional from Hyderabad was defrauded of R52 lakh under the guise of impending action from Mumbai police and CBI. 

Similarly, another individual lost his entire life savings, over Rs 20 lakh received from his employer post-retirement, due to these scams. The victims reported being monitored online via Skype for two days, hindering any attempts to seek help or verify the fraudulent claims.

The fraudulent notices received by victimsThe fraudulent notices received by victims

Officials report that with the recent news coverage of ED money laundering investigations and CBI actions, citizens are increasingly apprehensive, even about lawful activities or legitimate cash transactions in their accounts. This heightened anxiety is exacerbated when they receive calls from individuals impersonating police officers. “The frequency of such cases is increasing, and citizens are advised not to fall victim to these scams, as legitimate officers do not use internet calling to contact individuals or request them to appear online,” said a senior officer from the Mumbai Crime Branch.

TRAI scam

A 55-year-old resident of Santacruz lost his entire savings, falling prey to a fraud scheme, losing Rs 20.97 lakh to scammers. According to his complaint to the BKC cyber cell, on December 30, he received a call from an unknown person claiming to be an official from the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI). “The person stated that my number was linked to a money laundering investigation and that my Aadhar card was also connected to another number under investigation,” the complainant said. Further in his statement, the complainant claimed that the caller instructed him to file a complaint with the Govandi police station.

“The caller himself connected his number to the Govandi police station, where an officer introduced himself as Vinay Kumar Chaubey, stating there was already an FIR registered under the number MH105/1223,” he added. Panicked, the complainant asked the officer to file his complaint, leading to an online video call via Skype where he was provided with a link to fill in his details regarding the misuse of his Aadhar card. Exploiting the complainant’s panic, the cyber crooks coerced him into staying online, claiming to record his actions while interrogating him about his Aadhar card usage, including whether he had shared it with banks. After obtaining all his details, they claimed to have sent his Aadhar card to the CBI for verification and presented fabricated documents suggesting his involvement in money laundering.

Fearing arrest and reassured by the scammers that the accounts provided were for confidential investigation, the complainant transferred his entire savings, believing the scammers’ claims that the money in his account was illicit proceeds. The scammers even sent him a fake arrest warrant, maintaining an online presence throughout the transaction via Skype. The victim’s son revealed that his father, now in depression post-retirement, has gone to their native place to cope, while they are collaborating with authorities to recover their lost funds.

The complainant realised he was being duped after verifying the fake FIR number with relatives and promptly informed the bank to halt the transaction. Unfortunately, by then, the amount had already been withdrawn from his account.

“The police officer on the Skype video call appeared authentic, and they utilised the name of a genuine officer who had previously assisted the Mumbai police, with his details accessible online. This further convinced us of the legitimacy of the situation. The Skype videos purportedly from the police, appearing every ten seconds, kept my father continuously engaged online until he transferred all his savings. By the time we realised the fraud, we rushed to the bank in person. We believe if the bank had acted swiftly, they could have halted the transaction,” the complainant’s son said.

A similar incident occurred with Soumalya Paul, a resident of Hyderabad, who fell victim to a scam under the guise of a money laundering investigation related to the Naresh Goyal case. Scammers posing as representatives of the Mumbai police and CBI tricked Paul into transferring R52 lakh. “I received a call from TRAI informing me that my phone number would be blocked due to someone using my Aadhar card to obtain a fraudulent SIM and open an unauthorised account. The call was then transferred to the Mumbai police and subsequently to the CBI, initiating a money laundering probe against me. Eventually, they coerced me into transferring my entire life’s savings, amounting to over 52 lakh, under the guise of investigation. They provided receipts bearing the seal and signature of the CBI and Government of India. It later emerged as a fraud, resulting in the loss of my entire life’s savings. I seek justice and assistance in recovering my hard-earned money,” he said.

Fake notices

In addition to the cyber cell and local police, cyber experts are also receiving complaints from numerous individuals who have received notices purportedly from agencies such as the CBI, Income Tax, and ED, instructing them to cooperate with investigations. Some individuals have shared letters allegedly from the Delhi cyber cell wing, stating investigations into POCSO-related cases and claiming collaboration with the CBI for the same. The letter reads that “The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) and Indian Cybercrime Units perform an investigative role against victims through the technology of information, suggests, possess, produce, disseminate or access child pornographic images and materials within our territory. The Government has also given a number of steps to be implemented by Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to protect children from sexual abuse online. These inter-alia include the blocking of websites containing extreme Child Sexual Abuse Material (CAM] based on INTERPOL’s “Worst-of-list” shared periodically by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). The list is shared with the Department of Telecommunications (DoT), which then directs major ISPs to block such websites For discretion sake, I decided to reach you privately before transferring your case files to the tribunal prosecutors for immediate prosecution.”

“In some instances, victims may unknowingly be involved in illegal activities, even when they are watching porn clips and indulged and in any criminal behaviour, which they may keep hidden. When they receive such notices, they panic, providing cyber crooks with an opportunity to exploit them in cyber fraud,” said an officer.

Experts speak

“The prevalence of police impersonation is increasing and is being utilised in various types of cyber fraud. Victims often hesitate to approach authorities out of fear or a desire to avoid investigation. However, it’s imperative for law enforcement to take impersonation cases seriously. In addition to raising awareness, police should issue statements across various mediums to ensure that the message about impersonation reaches everyone,” said Ritesh Bhatia, a prominent cyber expert from the city.

“I have also encountered a similar situation where cyber crooks attempted to scam me through a fake ED investigation letter. However, due to my awareness, I attempted to track them down. They exhibited sharp and cautious behaviour, promptly ceasing communication when they realised I was onto their fraud. This highlights the crucial role of awareness in combating impersonation cases,” said Yasir Shaikh, another prominent cyber expert from the city.

Rs 52 lakh
Amount one victim lost  

Rs 20 L 
Amount one of the victims was defrauded of

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