KASARGOD: Scratch and get duped. Online fraudsters have come up with another modus operandi to swindle money from unsuspecting people. Instead of making the fraudulent phone call first, they are couriering a scratch-and-win card to the houses of potential victims as bait. In Kasaragod, their latest target was Purushothaman, a reporter with Jai Hind TV channel.
Last week, the postman delivered a package to his home in Adoor in Delampady panchayat on the border of Karnataka. The envelope had a multi-colored scratch card and two letters from Naaptol, an online store. One letterhead had the State emblem and Ministry of Finance printed on it.
The letter in block letters and riddled with grammatical and spelling errors said Purushothaman had won the first prize — a KIA Seltos — as part of Naaptol’s 12th-anniversary celebration. But the second letter asked him to scratch the card and call a WhatsApp number if he had won any gift. “When I scratched the card, it was indeed KIA Seltos,” said Purushothaman.
As instructed, he gave a call to the WhatsApp number. The purported Naaptol executive told Purushothaman that he had an option to take the car or encash the prize.
“If I have to take the car, I will have to deposit Rs 25,600 in Naaptol’s account and if I prefer Rs 14.8 lakh in cash, I will have to pay one per cent of the amount. I thought I will take the car,” he said. The executive gave him a day’s time to think about it.
Purushothaman said he was not surprised to receive another courier from Naaptol as he had bought a water tank cleaner from Naaptol an year ago which was delivered to his house.
“However, when I learnt I had won a car, it was quite unbelievable,” he said. The journalist then logged onto the company website in the night. He realised there was no mention of the 12th anniversary or a ‘scratch and win’ contest. The next day, the executive called him.
“He asked me to deposit Rs 25,800 in his bank account so that Naaptol could dispatch the car. I said I will come to Mumbai will the family to receive the car,” he said.
Though the executive had initially agreed, he called the next day and asked Purushothaman to call off the travel because of the pandemic. Instead, he asked him to take the cash by depositing Rs 14,800 in the account. Purushothaman told the executive he would not travel and the cash would be delivered by his friend in Mumbai.
“My friend went to Naaptol but the executive did not turn up for three days. Later, my friend found out the caller was in West Bengal and not in Mumbai,” he said.When Purushothaman confronted this fact with the executive, he switched off his phone.
“The fraudsters might have hacked into Naaptol’s server to get my postal address,” he said. Purushothaman said at least two persons in Kasaragod lost Rs 1 lakh and Rs 40,000, each, to this scam. “But they are not ready to come forward and lodge complaints,” he said.