VISAKHAPATNAM: Think twice before responding to the requests from unknown persons whom you befriended online as fraudsters are on the prowl on the social media looking for soft targets.
Online fraud cases have made a shocking comeback to V ag, if the police records are any indication. In the last one month, two major Facebook fraud cases have been reported in which the victims were duped of around `60 lakh. In both the cases, fraudsters had been in regular contact with the victims for more than a year before they resorted to conning.
Recently, a 35-year-old homemaker from the Airport police station limits lost `46 lakh in her bid to collect the electronic gadgets sent by her Facebook ‘friend’ who had claimed that the gadgets were worth `70 lakh. It was too late before she realised that it was a trap.
In another case, a B Tech first student from MVP Colony area had transferred `14 lakh, the entire retirement benefits of his father, to a bank account in Kolkata to ‘help out’ his Facebook ‘girl friend’ before he realised that it was a fake profile created by the fraudsters carrying the photographs of a girl.
“In both the cases, fraudsters took time from one to three years. They had used the photographs of a foreigner and a beautiful girl respectively in the fake Facebook profiles.
They waited with patience for the opportune moments and trapped the victims,” said Cyber Crime inspector V Gopinath.
Explaining the modus operandi, Gopinath said the online fraudsters first befriend unknown people and try various tricks. “After establishing rapport, they take time to use emotional reasons to seek money. Some seek money saying that their parents have met with an accident or will undergo an emergency surgery. Or else, conmen say that they have sent some expensive gifts, requesting their targets to pay processing fees. In fact, these excuses are tricks to which gullible people often fall prey.
There are cases in which the fraudsters strike an emotional chord with the victims,” he added. Citing the recent cases, he said the investigations are in the preliminary stage and teams are being sent to suspected places.
In the case of duping of the married woman, a team has been sent to Noida and the MVP fraud case has links with Kolkata, he said.
Statistics available with the Cyber Crime Police, Visakhapatnam, indicate that this year till May, 13 online frauds including three involving Facebook, have come to light. Police sources say that in the Facebook frauds, the amount duped could be to the tune of `80 lakh to `1 crore. Other online frauds are mostly about employment, where the fraudsters dupe gullible youth by promising jobs.
“Creating fake mail ids, Facebook accounts and phone numbers is an easy job for the fraudsters. Many cases suggest that they are from Bihar, Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand and Noida. The accounts they use for transactions belong to the persons who are unaware of the fraud and lend their accounts for commission,” said a police officer from Cyber Crime Investigation Cell, adding that this has been the reason behind many police teams returning empty handed without tracing the culprits.