Be wary of ‘falling’ for online swindlers in suitors’ clothing

City police recently initiated a probe into an incident in which a woman was cheated by a person whose profile she shortlisted on a popular matrimonial website.
Image used for representational purpose.
Image used for representational purpose.

KOCHI: The search for the ideal life partner could have you falling for fraudsters. Police have been receiving complaints of people being duped using popular matrimonial websites. City police recently initiated a probe into an incident in which a woman was cheated by a person whose profile she shortlisted on a popular matrimonial website. 

One of the shortlisted users, who identified as a male, chatted with the victim and told her that he was based in the United States. He promised to proceed with the marriage proposal and said he would travel to India to finalise it. In July, the victim received a message from the same person claiming he had been detained at New Delhi airport for being in possession a large amount of US dollars that he had proposed to use for the marriage expenditure. The victim paid over Rs 3 lakh to accounts provided by the accused for his release,” an officer said. 

Later, she was contacted by a person claiming to be an official of the Ministry of Finance who assists people detained at airports in the country and offered help to release her supposed suitor. She ended up paying the money demanded by the official for the service. The victim realised she had been duped as there was no response after the amounts were paid. 

Police have sought the assistance of the cyber cell to track down the numbers of the accused and collect the bank account details to which the money was transferred. “Such incidents reveal that fraudsters are now targeting people through matrimonial websites. Account holders blindly trust persons sending marriage proposals. After chatting them up for several days, scammers take advantage of their trust to siphon off money,” said an officer. Ernakulam rural cyber police registered a similar case where a youth who created an account on another popular website received a marriage proposal request from an NRI woman. 

The swindler told the victim that she was detained at the airport for carrying foreign currency while travelling to meet him. The victim ended up sending the money sought for her release. Cyber law expert Jiyas Jamal said most matrimonial websites do not have verification procedures. “Even if these exist, fraudsters manage to breach them by submitting fake documents and pictures. Usually, deceivers subscribe to paid accounts which enable them to view all the profiles and chat account holders,” he said.

According to advocate Jiyas, websites should also take responsibility for preventing fraud. “There should be procedures introduced whereby the genuineness of persons creating profiles can be ensured. Most of the victims have lost money to persons with whom they chatted for several days. No financial transaction should be carried out with a person whom one has never met,” he added.

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