“YOUR PHONE number will be disconnected in two hours. Contact Lucknow police.” A 70-year-old industrialist from Pune was told on a call claiming to be from the ‘Telecom Department.’ What followed was a series of deceptions and threats, including that of an arrest by the Enforcement Directorate, in which he ended up losing Rs 95 lakh to cyber frauds.

Since January this year, the Pune City police have registered a total of 41 cases in which citizens have been cheated on the pretext of disconnection of power, phone or gas connections. The victims have received either direct calls from frauds claiming to be officers of these departments or have received Interactive Voice Response (IVR) calls.

In the latest case registered with the cyber crime police station, the complainant, who heads a manufacturing company, received a call in the first week of May from a man posing as an official from the Telecom department. The complainant was given a contact number and was told he should speak to an officer from Lucknow police. Later, he called the number and the man identified himself, using the name of a senior IPS officer from Uttar Pradesh cadre.

The ‘officer’ told the complainant that his account had been flagged by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) because Rs 95 lakh obtained as commission in international drug trade were received in his account.

As the complainant kept denying his involvement, he was sent a fraudulent letter from the ED claiming that the complainant had received the money and he could be arrested.

Festive offer

The ‘officer’ then sought information about various bank accounts held by the complainant and also the operations of his company. The complainant was told that his accounts will be ‘audited by the Reserve Bank of India’. Over a period of 10 days, he was made to transfer over Rs 95 lakh in 15 transactions for reasons including ‘transfer of funds to government accounts for audit.’ As the frauds continued asking for more funds, the complainant realized that he had been cheated. A probe has been launched by the cyber crime police station of Pune.

Senior Inspector Suresh Shinde, in-charge of the cyber crime police station, said, “We are probing several cases in which the victims have been defrauded on the pretext of disconnection of services citing fake reasons. Multiple advisories have been issued over the last few months sensitizing citizens about such frauds. In such cases, it is very important for people to talk to their family members or friends about such threats or harassment so that loss of life savings and hard earned money can be averted.”

Advisory from Department of Telecommunications (DoT)

On May 14, the DoT issued an advisory to citizens not to take fake calls wherein callers threaten to disconnect their mobile numbers, or that their mobile numbers are being misused in illegal activities. The DoT had also issued advisory about WhatsApp calls from foreign origin mobile numbers impersonating government officials and duping people.

“Cyber ​​criminals through such calls try to threaten or steal personal information to carry out cyber financial frauds. The DoT does not authorize anyone to make such calls on its behalf and has advised people to stay vigilant and report such fraud communications at ‘Chakshu – Report Suspected Fraud Communications’ facility of Sanchar Saathi portal. Such proactive reporting helps DoT in prevention of misuse of telecom resources for cyber-crimes and financial frauds.” said the release issued by the DoT on May 14.

The DoT also advises citizens to report at cyber-crime helpline number 1930 or http://www.cybercrime.gov.in in case one is already a victim of such scams.

Click here to join Express Pune WhatsApp channel and get a curated list of our stories