HYDERABAD: Three persons, including two Nigerians, were arrested by the cyber crime sleuths of Hyderabad police in Delhi on Monday for duping a woman assistant professor of Regional Agricultural Research Station at Polasa, near Jagtial, in Karimnagar district of Rs 2.82 lakh.
Two of the arrested _ Tommy Mack (28), student at CCTR ( Advance Diploma in Computers) Laduseria , Saket, New Delhi; and Marvellous Mezre Okafor (24), cloth businessman and resident of Delhi _ are Nigerians. The third, Henkhochon Haokip (25), a third-year student of B.Sc (Maths) at Kirori Mal College on Delhi University campus, hails from the northeastern state of Manipur. Another accused, Azim Khan, is absconding.
The trio cheated her on the pretext of attending an international seminar on climate change. Police brought them here from Delhi on transit prisoner (PT) warrant.
Additional commissioner of police (crime) Swati Lakra said Mack and Okafor were the key accused. They sent emails on mail ID email@example.com to all the agricultural universities in India as if it was sent by officials of Third International Conference on Water Resources Energy and Climate Changes, UK, requesting interested candidates to participate in the seminar.
The email mentioned that the interested candidates should send their resumes directly to firstname.lastname@example.org. Some universities circulated the mail copies to their staff and students believing it to be an official communication from the UK.
“A woman assistant professor at Regional Agricultural Research Station Polasa, Jagtial, Karimnagar, Telangana showed interest in attending the conference and submitted her paper to email@example.com on July 31. On August 1 she received a reply from firstname.lastname@example.org, which was the contact mail ID of www.icwrecc.co.uk mentioned in the mail from email@example.com, accepting her paper for oral presentation at the conference to be conducted at Royal Crown Hotel in London and asking her to pay a fee which was to be reimbursed after the conference,” Lakra said.
Since the communication came through proper channel from the administrative section of Prof Jayashankar Telangana State Agricultural University, Rajendranagar, Hyderabad, she obtained permission from the director of international programme for attending the conference and also discussed the matter with the director. They assured here that the conference was genuine and would be useful for her professional career.
Initially, the cheats sent her a mail seeking a deposit of Rs 33,000 towards her stay in Royal Crown Hotel, London. Later, they demanded another Rs 52,496 as mandatory refund (MSRD) towards security deposit as many Asian people misuse the trip for other purposes. Later, they demanded Rs 43,657 more for one-way air ticket promising to pay for the return ticket. They also demanded Rs 61,211 towards health insurance and Rs 20,000 for her paper presentation and Rs 28,600 for publication. Finally, they sought Rs 35,488 towards visa fee.
All these amounts, totalling Rs 2.82 lakh, were paid by the unsuspecting assistant professor into the bank accounts of Paolenthang (SBI) and Md Aziz Khan (Bank of India). After receiving the money they sent her a mail asking her to upgrade her air ticket to first class and demanded a further amount of Rs 96,000 but the victim refused to pay that amount. They sent another mail asking her to bear at least half of the extra fare. By now she grew suspicious and refused to pay more.
When she did not receive her air tickets or confirmation of participation in the conference, she contacted the director of international programme and also sent a mail to firstname.lastname@example.org which was not answered. The director if international programme told her that the conference seemed to be a fraud.
The ACP said Mack and Okafor created fake mail addresses _ email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com _ and a fake website www.icwrecc.co.uk purported to be the official mail IDs and website of the conference organiser. The messages and mail IDs used in the crime were found in the laptops seized from their possession.