3 lose over Rs. 5L in WhatsApp call scam : The Tribune India

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3 lose over Rs. 5L in WhatsApp call scam

3 lose over Rs. 5L in WhatsApp call scam


Tribune News Service

Avneet Kaur

Jalandhar, April 16

As people seem to have become quite aware of the online banking, shopping and KBC lottery frauds, the cyber criminals have now started coming up with new ways to get you to part with your money. The latest scam that is doing the rounds is ‘WhatsApp Call’ fraud.

Modus operandi

  • The scam usually involves a WhatsApp call, but sometimes a message, from someone claiming to be a family member or friend from abroad in need of help
  • Aim is to encourage recipients to transfer money
  • Usually, the perpetrators pretend they are in a hurry, most likely to entice their victims to take immediate action.

He already knew my nephew’s name and other details about him. When I said your voice doesn't match with him, he replied as they are talking after a long time, so I am not able to recognise his voice. He said he’s in trouble. He told me he got into a fight with some Britishers and has been arrested. — A victim

In the past one week, five residents based in Jalandhar, Adampur, Hoshiarpur and other districts have fallen prey to fraud and lost over Rs 5 lakh. Although they have registered the complaints with the Punjab Cyber Cell by calling 1930- helpline number, they say they hardly have any hopes that the fraudsters would be traced and they will get back their hard-earned money.

Talking to The Tribune, one of the victims, who requested not to be named, said she received the WhatsApp call from a number from Canada around 4:30pm on April 12. She said the person on the call, who was speaking fluent Punjabi, claimed to be her nephew.

“He already knew my nephew’s name and other details about him. When I questioned him that your voice doesn’t match with Love (my nephew), he replied as they are talking after a very long time, so I am not able to recognise his voice. After talking for a few minutes, he came to the point that he’s in trouble. He told me he got into a fight with some Britishers and has been arrested,” the victim said.

She further said, the boy posing as his nephew then asked her to immediately deposit Rs 50,000 in the account number he was sending, so that he can pay to the lawyer and could be released. “I told him, I would first speak to his family, but saying his mother would fall ill after knowing he’s been arrested, he continued to emotionally fool me. He even made me talk to a lawyer, who asked me to deposit the money at the earliest if I want to see my nephew safe. I then agreed and deposited Rs 50,000. I received his call again the next day saying he has been released but to get back his passport and other documents, he needs to pay Rs 1.3 lakh more, I then deposited that too”, she added.

“It was after depositing the amount in his account, I spoke to my relatives and then to Love’s mother, who informed me nothing such has happened with him and he’s completely fine. It was then I got to know I have been cheated,” the woman said, adding that the fraudster took advantage of her innocence and duped her of a total Rs 1.8 lakh.

In other similar incidents, an Adampur-based resident lost Rs 1.5 lakh, while another Hoshiarpur-based resident lost Rs 2.5 lakh. There were two-three more victims of this fraud, who had lost money to the tune of lakhs but they denied sharing details fearing their identity would be revealed.

Talking to the Tribune, Palvinder Singh, a cyber expert and founder of Secuneus Technologies based in Jalandhar, who was approached by the victims to seek help in tracing the fraudsters, said after phishing, identity theft, spam emails, malware, ransomware, the cyber criminals have now started using social engineering to fool innocent people.

Sharing details about the modus operandi of this scam, Palvinder said it seems they are professional cyber criminals. Not one, a group of people in India and abroad are working together to defraud people. “It also seems there’s a data leak that’s why the fraudsters have contact numbers and details of the persons they are posing,” he said, adding that over 100 people so far have received such calls.

Meanwhile, despite repeated attempts officials of district cyber cell department and ACP Headquarters Major Sumeer Singh couldn’t be contacted.

About The Author

The Tribune News Service brings you the latest news, analysis and insights from the region, India and around the world. Follow the Tribune News Service for a wide-ranging coverage of events as they unfold, with perspective and clarity.


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