In October, Gurgaon resident Smritija Chatterjee received a call from an unknown number asking her to click on a link or risk getting her phone hacked. Soon after she clicked on the link sent through WhatsApp, her phone froze and she received an SMS informing that Rs 80,000 had been debited from her account.
Chatterjee is among several unsuspecting victims of cyber fraud, who lost their hard-earned money to scamsters employing various means – phone hacking, fake part-time jobs, YouTube likes, to name a few – to execute their plans.
Recently, Gurgaon Police arrested seven men, tracing around Rs 22 crore they amassed by cheating people like Chatterjee. The arrested men included Mohammad Danish and Mohammad Majid who were allegedly behind the scam call made to Chatterjee.
Siddhant Jain, Deputy Police Commissioner (South), said that upon scrutinising the data from the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Center (I4C) for the seized mobile phones and SIM cards of the accused, it was revealed Danish and Majid were linked to Rs 18 crore worth of fraud. “175 FIRs are nationally registered, and eight are specific to Haryana. Other accused – Navdeep Kumawat, Krishna Gopal, Mahendra Kumar Sen, and Sachin Nama – are linked to Rs 2.5 crore, with 39 FIRs registered, and three specific to Haryana. Accused Suraj Rana is linked to Rs 1.68 crore, with 28 FIRs across the country and two in Haryana,” he said.
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Probe revealed Danish and Majid posed as bank customer service officers contacting their targets on the pretext of updating the bank accounts and resolving other issues by sending links through WhatsApp. Kumawat, Gopal, Sen and Nama committed fraud by inviting people to like YouTube videos or offering part-time jobs through Telegram. Rana engaged in various cyber frauds, including creating fake accounts on social media, police said.
Sub Inspector Sachin Kumar, part of the team that made the arrests, said that there has been an array of cybercrime techniques, which keep getting more complicated by the day. “Some pose as customer care personnel to gain the trust of callers and cheat them. Many crimes are happening on WhatsApp now. The accused initially get access to data of people, hack into their apps, and text the victim’s friends and relatives asking for money. Sometimes, sextortion calls are made through WhatsApp,” he said.
“Many accused have been found to cheat people under the pretext of calling from LIC, or banks. We have gotten cases where victims were called by people posing as bank personnel asking if their credit card limit needs to be increased, and people fall for such scams and disclose the OTP… The accused also call people posing as electricity department employees and ask unsuspecting users to click on links failing which, they say, their electricity supply will be impacted. When people click on the link, screen-sharing apps like AnyDesk get downloaded and their UPI ID gets leaked,” Kumar added.
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First published on: 18-11-2023 at 04:16 IST