MANGALURU: Within a year of its inception, the city cyber crime police station (CCPS) has registered losses of about Rs 1.4 crore from online 'Nigerian Fraud'.
The fraud involves victims being asked to part with their money as payment for a lump some amount from abroad. The CCPS has registered at least 21 cases so far, of which women victims are soft targets for large sums of money and young males fall are twice the number of women. The victims are brainwashed into parting with their money in exchange for a lumpsome of dollars, pounds or a job or car. In all cases, victims consciously part with their information and money.Many victims also avail loans to pay the fraudsters.
"Despite being warned by the bank manager about the scam, some have transferred the amount using the ATM," rued Savitra Tej, CCPS inspector. It is only after two months that victims realised they have been cheated. The fraudsters find a luscious prey among women, particularly those in a tough spot in their personal life.
"Women have been cheated the maximum amount, with the highest being Rs 32 lakh in a case case in October," said Tej. Large number of young men are a prey to jobs or car offers.
Modus Operandi The fraudster, posing as a foreigner, strikes an emotional cord with the victms by explaining a sob story through an email, social media or text, and a desire to share his or her wealth with the victim. The stranger promises to part with a large sum of money (in Euro or dollars) or a prized treasure as a donation to the victim due to her social conditions.
Sometimes, the narrative includes some legal restrictions the donor in the native country prohibiting the donor to withdraw his or her wealth, thereby seeking the victims help in it. Over time, the donor claims the parcel is sent, and is stuck at the customs at the airport, where officials have seen the wealth and are now charging the donor a large sum
The victim in an attempt to redeem the parcel, sends money quoted by the donor. These installments continue over months, till one day, the donor goes incommunicado or the victim calls the bluff.
"Atleast two months pass before victims report to the police. Many cases though go unreported," said Tej. Similar to this, youth, mostly male, are lured by lucrative job offers where they are required to transfer a certain amount in the process of securing the job.
Another growing phenomenon among young boys is the OLX car fraud, where the fraudster claims the car that the victim showed interest in, has been kept at the airport for several days and needs to be redeemed with a said payment. The scamsters use several accounts, sometimes five, for squeezing out the money from the victim, said CCPS inspector Savitra Tej.
This also proves counterproductive for the police who have to trace down five different locations for the source. While all these frauds fall under the umbrella of 'Nigerain frauds', the culprits are Indians, usually located in the northern states, as per findings from past cases. Cops are forced to travel to the point of withdrawal or end point of transfer, requiring several days to track the criminal.
"By the time we get there, we learn that the bank accounts are also fake," said Tej. The scamsters usually use the bank accounts of those in the rural areas who are unaware of the banking system, but who would sometimes get a paltry amount in exchange for operating their account.
A lack of pan-India connectivity among cyber crime police stations in India does not relieve their burden.