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Cyber expert Ritesh Bhatia said that the missed calls are an extension of the “work from home” scam where victims were asked to carry out simple tasks such as liking particular products or videos on websites and are promised Rs 150 initially.

In some cases, in addition to WhatsApp voice calls, pepole also got video calls, which police suspects could be linked to a sextortion racket. So far, no official complaint has been made to the Mumbai police. (express photo)

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A SPATE of missed calls on WhatsApp from international numbers are suspected to be part of a job scam through cyber fraud that has hit several people in Mumbai and across the country in the past few weeks, according to police and cyber experts.

According to officials, the victims were promised “work from home” jobs involving “liking” certain products online and eventually were duped.

In some cases, in addition to WhatsApp voice calls, pepole also got video calls, which police suspects could be linked to a sextortion racket. So far, no official complaint has been made to the Mumbai police.

DCP (cyber) Balsingh Rajput told The Indian Express, “We suspect this to be a combination of two scams. In cases where WhatsApp calls are made from international numbers, it is likely part of the job scam where people are offered lucrative work from home offers and are eventually conned. In cases of video calls, we suspect it could be the case of sextortion.”

The officer added, “So far we have not received any formal complaint in the matter from anyone who has lost money after receiving these calls.” However, many people from across the country, especially Mumbai, have taken to social media platforms such as Twitter, complaining about receiving missed calls on WhatsApp from numbers belonging to countries, including Vietnam, Bali and Ghana. Many users said they received three to four calls in a day from these international numbers. Some users said they received video calls as well.

Cyber expert Ritesh Bhatia said that the missed calls are an extension of the “work from home” scam where victims were asked to carry out simple tasks such as liking particular products or videos on websites and are promised Rs 150 initially.

The accused made small payments a couple of times in order to gain the trust of the victims. Later they would tell the victim that they are due to receive a big sum but need to make a payment for that. Over a period of time, the accused managed to take lakhs of rupees from victims before they went missing, Bhatia said.

“Earlier in this scam, the cyber criminals would send messages. Now they are giving missed calls. Those who call back receive messages from them claiming themselves to be from the HR of some company and offer them money to like their products online and eventually dupe them,” said Bhatia, adding that the international numbers could be Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) numbers that can be easily purchased online. The calls are not necessarily made from the country whose caller code is being used.

In video calls, the accused play an obscene clip as soon as the victim answers the call. They then record the victim looking at the obscene video — even if for a few seconds — and send the clip to the victim and demand money if the victim does not want the video to be made public, Bhatia said.

© The Indian Express (P) Ltd

First published on: 09-05-2023 at 23:13 IST

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