COIMBATORE: A spurt in online financial frauds recently has prompted the Coimbatore cybercrime police to swing into action. The police have found that the fraudsters operate from northern States and have decided to investigate the cases with help from the concerned State police. They have also intensified the efforts to create awareness among the public on such bogus links and calls.
The modus operandi of the fraudsters is to send fraudulent web links of banks or network service providers to their victims make frantic phone calls to them asking to update their KYC details, get them to enter the fraudulent website and update their bank account details and one-time password and then swindle the money from their bank accounts.
"It came to light that the fraudster gangs behind such scams operated from northern States, mostly Jharkhand and Bihar. We have planned to compile the files of such cases and investigate them with the help of the concerned State police," said S Jayadevi, Inspector of district cybercrime police. Four such complaints had been received in the last one month, she said.
A victim who lost Rs 56,000 to the scamsters said, "On September 7, I received a text claiming to be from Airtel. It asked me to update my KYC for online access to pay my bills. Since I usually pay my bills online, without suspecting, I opened the link. Soon, I got a call and the caller instructed me to visit the link that he would send for updating my KYC. The link directed me to a web page in which I entered my bank account credentials, including OTP. As there was a disruption midway, I then entered the details of my other bank account. After that, Rs 56,000 from both the accounts. Only then did I realise that it was a fraudulent link."
The victim then contacted the concerned banks and asked the staff to freeze his accounts and probe the scam. However, the bank staff told him that the money was debited from Bihar and advised him to approach the police.
Meanwhile, bank officials said many victims, without knowledge of who to approach for making complaints, contacted the banks seeking an investigation into the frauds. "We cannot do anything in this regard except freezing the bank accounts. Only police can probe the case further," said K Chandru, technical head at a leading bank's branch in Coimbatore.
In a similar case, a resident of KK Pudur in the city lost `4.98 lakh after giving away his bank account credentials through a fraudulent link. The fraudsters accessed his bank fixed deposit (FD) account and swindled the money.
A police officer said the scamsters sent web links created using applications that generated real-time web URLs free of cost. "If people are not aware of such technical aspects, they better avoid accessing the fishy links. Many people are hoodwinked as the fraudulent links look similar to the original links of banks or network service providers," he said.
The fraudsters targeted bank account and credit card holders randomly by pushing bulk SMS and calls asking them to update their KYC details. Only the victims entered the bank account details on the fraudulent web pages, the scamsters collected the credentials through remote access and gained access to the original bank accounts of the victims.
The cybercrime police said they advised people not to believe in messages or calls which ask them to update their KYC details, many still fell prey to the scams. "The bank authorities never send such messages, emails or make calls regarding KYC updation. Hence, people should never reveal their bank account details, especially the secret PIN and OTP, to anyone," they said.
Even well-educated people and those well versed in handling online banking services became victims to such frauds, Jayadevi said. "One of the recent victims works in the IT field and is well aware that banks do not ask for OTP and account details over the phone. Still, she shared the details with a caller, when she was in the middle of a tough situation, and lost her money," the inspector said.
People can reach citizen financial cyber frauds reporting and management system, operated by National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) to curb such frauds, through helpline number 155260, the police said adding that the complaints would be forwarded to the concerned police stations. "Also, people can get assistance directly from the district cyber crime cell at the SP office," they said.