PERAMBALUR: From a single case in 2021, the number of complaints of online fraud via Telegram in the district has risen to 41 so far, of which 39 are from this year alone. Winning a victim’s trust by initially paying token payments for completing simple tasks such as ‘liking’ a YouTube video, the cyber fraudsters have so far conned the complainants of a total of about Rs 1.62 crore by subsequently luring them into “schemes” promising high returns for a “nominal” deposit, the district cyber crime police said.
Explaining the modus operandi of the fraudsters, Perambalur cyber crime police station inspector M Alagammal told TNIE, “In all the cases, they approached the victims through the instant messaging app offering high-paying online jobs.
The 'job' entails simple tasks like promoting products through 'likes' and 'subscription' on websites and YouTube videos. In most cases, the scammers offered Rs 50 for 'liking’ a YouTube video or website, and Rs 1,000 to Rs 3,000 per day." Attracted by the high pay, people accept the offer and start “working”. Initially, they get small sums of money as promised.
Once the scammers find that their victims are hooked, they announce fresh schemes offering high returns for deposits. Trusting their words, people transfer lakhs of rupees to the fraudsters' accounts. Once they receive the amount, fraudsters cut off communication. Only after this do people approach the police, the inspector added.
The victims of such fraud via Telegram include the first-ever recorded case in the district wherein a man from Veppanthattai complained of having lost Rs 20,000 in 2021, to a professor who had only a few days ago told the police he was cheated of as much as Rs 44 lakh. Making things worse, fraudsters trick people into sending money to bank accounts that cannot be directly traced to them.
"No scammer steals money directly from people's accounts,” Alagammal said. Giving an example, she said a fraudster’s account that was flagged by one of the victims alone had 81 registered complaints against it, as per the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP). This makes it difficult to recover lost money if not flagged immediately, she pointed out.
While the inspector appealed to avoid “faceless” people asking for money on social media, she explained that the police can take steps to freeze a bank account to which money was lost to if the fraud was reported immediately. This way we have frozen several such accounts with several lakh rupees, she said.
Cooperation from the district court to restore the amount to the victim, however, leaves much to be desired, she added. Meanwhile, district SP C Shymala Devi said they were raising awareness against cyber fraud in schools, colleges and among the rural masses through initiatives like 'Kalviyum Kavalum' and 'Grama Kaaval'. “We are trying our best to prevent such online frauds," she added.