KARNATAKA: If you are a Facebook user and get a friend request from a person having a profile photo of him wearing a police uniform introducing themselves as a senior police officer, exercise caution before accepting the request or else you would be the next victim of this new modus operandi of cybercriminals who are siphoning off the money by creating fake accounts of police officers.
There has been an alarming increase in incidents of creation of identical Facebook accounts especially that of Karnataka State police officers by cyber crooks to seek monetary help from social media users. In recent times, at least ten such incidents have been reported in the state where accounts of top cops were impersonated and messages were sent to their friends on social media seeking money by claiming they were in a financial crisis.
The cyber thugs are resorting to this new modus operandi of creating fake accounts and they have also been successful in siphoning off money from several social media users impersonating top police officers.
The fraudsters first create a fake Facebook account of the police similar to what the real police is using, upload a similar profile picture and other details to make it look real, and then send a request to all his friends and relatives. The fraudsters would then have a casual chat via messengers after befriending them and later would request to transfer some amount of money giving any reason. They would suggest transferring the money via e-wallet.
The cyber crooks so far have created such fake Facebook accounts impersonating Ramanagar Superintendent of Police, Assistant Commissioner of Police (traffic), Mysuru- Sandesh Kumar, Lokayukta SP- Sneha, Karwar Rural sub-inspector Revannasiddappa, Sindhanur Rural Sub-inspector Raghavendra, Bantwal rural police sub-inspector Prasanna, a fake account of Cowl Bazar police inspector, Ballari, retired DCP Maheshwarappa, and many others.
The fraudsters have also not spared already dead police officers while a fake account impersonating later Coastal Security police Harsihchandra was also created recently and tried to cheat a resident of Madikeri district.
Most of the police officials have reported the fake accounts and have also lodged complaints to take action against the fraudsters, who are said to be operating from Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat, and other north Indian states.
A highly placed source in the police department revealed that all cops have been instructed to not share photos of them in uniform in social media to prevent misuse of using their photos to defraud people.
A senior police officer attached to the cybercrime cell said that they are receiving such complaints of fraudsters impersonating and cloning Facebook accounts. “We have taken the issue seriously and tracing those involved in it. A person who created a similar fake profile of Bengaluru city police was arrested recently and we would take severe actions on those involved in it,” he said.
Academicians targeted: Meanwhile, cybercriminals have also started eyeing on University professors and research scholars. There have been reports of professors and Assistant professors of the University of Mysore receiving calls from cyber thugs who talk to them on the pretext of offering them insurance, loan and try to collect their card and account details and siphon off money from them.
A source revealed that a professor of the University of Mysore has lost nearly Rs 8 lakh and he learned that the fraudsters had emptied his account only after three months, following which a complaint was lodged. The professor believing that the caller was from the bank had shared the OTP that gave them free hand to get away with money in his account.
This has shaken varsity teachers as many have started getting request mails for financial assistance of a patient and many get calls asking for sharing bank details, OTPs assuring them monitory gains.
“We have been constantly creating awareness among the public to not share OTP with anyone and in most of the cases, people lose money sharing their OTP’s. We can put an end to this only when people stop giving OTP’s,” said an officer from the Cybercrime police station.