*A pediatrician in Pune lost Rs 20 lakh to cyber criminals after being threatened with arrest warrant in the ‘Naresh Goyal money laundering case’.

*Senior citizen in his late 70s lost Rs four lakh when a fake CBI officer told him over a video call that he had received illicit funds in the ‘Naresh Goyal money laundering case.’

*A 73-year-old man in Pune lost Rs 25 lakh after he was told that he is a suspect in the ‘Raj Kundra money laundering case.’

*A 64-year-old Army veteran in Pune lost Rs 3.1 crores of his life savings after cyber criminals posing as cops told him his account had reported transactions in ‘Naresh Goyal case’

These are among at least a dozen cases that the Cyber ​​investigators from Pune and Pimpri Chinchwad police have reported over the past one month in which the online fraudsters have misused the references to the cases against businessman and actress Shilpa Shetty’s husband Raj Kundra and Jet Airways founder. Naresh Goyal, both of whom have faced investigations on the charges of alleged money laundering.

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Officials said that all these scams start with the victim receiving a call from fraudsters posing as officials of the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI).

“These are either direct calls or interactive voice response system calls which ultimately connect the receiver to a fake TRAI officer. This fraudster tells the victims that their phone connection will shut down in two hours because criminal proceedings have been initiated against the number. The fake TRAI officers then ask the victims to connect on video call with some officers from police or agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation,” said an officer from Cyber ​​crime police station of Pune city.

The officer added, “These fake officers in some cases sit in front of the cameras wearing police uniforms in a setting of a police station and use names of serving IPS officers. In some cases they pretend that they are calling from some control rooms. All these tools are used to make the victim believe that their con is real. These fake officers initially ask for Aadhar and financial details of victims and then tell them that an arrest warrant has been issued against them for their links to money laundering cases involving Raj Kundra and Naresh Goyal. As the victims keep denying their involvement in any such activity, the fraudsters tell them they are victims of identity theft and that their name will have to be cleared. It is at this point that these fake cops ask the victims to transfer large sums of money on the pretexts like parking funds to government safe accounts or priority investigation and various false pretexts like official verification and government clearance certificates. In some of these cases, fraudsters say that the victims are under surveillance and ask them to sit in front of the cameras or remain on call for hours. Such tactics not only create immense pressure on victims but also forces them to keep following instructions. The victims are threatened not to talk to anyone.”

Senior Inspector Suresh Shinde, in-charge of the Pune City Cyber ​​Crime police station said, “The modus operandi is similar to the drugs in parcel frauds. The Cyber ​​criminals pose as law enforcement officials to threaten unsuspecting victims with arrest or imprisonment claiming their links to various criminal activities.”

Another Cyber ​​investigator said, “As per the Interpol terminology, these scams fall under the broader category of social engineering frauds in which cyber criminals exploit a victim’s fears, trust or vulnerabilities in order to obtain money directly or obtain confidential information to enable a subsequent crime. . Such scams started getting reported internationally in the early 2010s. In 2015, in a large multinational action against the international cyber criminals perpetrating these crimes, the Interpol had arrested over 200 people. Many Indian cities have seen a sudden spike in the occurrence of these social engineering scams over the last three years.”

An officer from the Cyber ​​cell of the Pimpri Chinchwad police said, “Our probe has suggested that these scams are executed by multilayer international criminal networks. Their lower layers of suspects handling fraudulent bank accounts operate in India. The upper layers comprising masterminds operate from some Middle Eastern and South East Asian countries.”

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