Guwahati Records Successive Cyber Crimes Within a Week
GUWAHATI: A series of successive cyber frauds have been recorded in the city within a span of a week. A unique pattern of the cases include cheating through newer payment methods such as UPI. Two cases have been registered in Satgaon and Paltan Bazar Police Station where the scamsters have duped people through the similar UPI route.
Guwahati resident loses Rs 72,600 in alleged online scam
A resident of Satgaon area in Guwahati has lost Rs 72,600 for trusting an unverified email. Azminur Islam had applied online for Bank Mitra Customer Service Point in the month of November.
Customer Service Point is also called a Bank Mitra. Bank Mitra is a concept designed under PPP (Public Private Partnership) where a Bank Mitra or CSP works as a representative or agent of bank and is appointed to provide banking service to citizens. Islam wanted to apply for CSP and start his own services in Guwahati.
In the subsequent days, Azminur had received two emails. While he ignored the first email, he trusted the second email. The second mail claimed that if he wanted the CSP then he had to pay Rs 15,000 for registration. After this incident started a series of events during which he paid a total of Rs 72,600 over Google Pay.
He first paid Rs 3,600 for registration and Rs 10,000 for audit balance. He was told he needed to pay more for the balance, so he paid another Rs 10,000. The caller who was associated with him told him to pay additional money for the materials they will send him including the CCTV camera and other banking items. So he paid another Rs 15,000 to them. He further booked their flight tickers. All this happened within a span of a week.
“I made the payments over Google Pay as the account number to which the money was being transferred was named CSP,” Azminur informed G Plus.
Azminur doubted only when he was asked to pay Rs 12,000 luggage charges by the people who were coming to meet him. "At that moment, I had a doubt," Azminur told G Plus.
Azminur was trying hard to get the CSP and was thus exploited by the unidentified people. "I was trying hard to get a CSP and utilized my savings and my father's money for this," added Azminur. Another revelation came to him when he realized that to avail a CSP, one had to visit the nearest bank and meet the branch manager.
He is now trying to get his money back and strangely the caller with whom he had been in touch responded to his calls. "They claim that they will pay me back within 30 to 90 days," said Azminur, who believes that the miscreants are trying to misdirect him.
As such, Azminur has filed a complaint online in Cyber Crime Portal of Assam Police with the Support ID: 2364565013295439797. He has further approached the Satgaon Police Station to register a complaint regarding the matter.
"The police and the administration have been giving awareness in this regard. What can we do if educated people fall into such online traps? The success rate of recovering the money in such cases is very low," Sunil Kalita, Officer in Charge (OC) Satgaon Police Station told G Plus.
Another case of Rs 35,000 fraud recorded in Paltan Bazar Police Station
A Guwahati resident was duped of Rs 35,000 while receiving an order from Amazon. Noor Ahmed is a student from B Borooah College who ordered books from the e-commerce site Amazon on 25th December.
After two days, he received a call from an unidentified caller who claimed to be from Amazon Sales and Promotion Department and asked him his order number. He verified the same and was offered a free gift worth Rs 50,000.
To avail of the gift, the caller told him to buy a coupon worth Rs 5,000. "The man gave me a coupon code and asked me to use the code and pay from Amazon pay UPI," added Ahmed. Since Noor didn't have Amazon pay UPI, he was then asked to pay from Paytm and was given an account number.
Upon paying Rs 5,000 he received a message on WhatsApp claiming a GST error. He was then asked by the alleged scamster to pay Rs 9,999 as GST. Noor Ahmed paid again and received a message that it was a wrong transaction. He was assured that he will get back the money after 10 minutes and was asked to pay again in the meantime.
Noor Ahmed paid another Rs 9,999 and this time he was told he got a penalty and will have to pay Rs 10,000 to get back all of the money he paid so far. He paid Rs 10,000 to get all his money back. But by then, he started to feel suspicious while being on line with the caller. Ahmed then called his friend from Bangalore who worked at Amazon.
The friend cross-verified and revealed that there was no such offer against the order.
"I lost money because they had my order number. My privacy was leaked and I lost my money," Ahmed added. Noor Ahmed has so far lost Rs 35,000 and has filed an FIR at Paltan Bazar Police Station.
G Plus spoke to Officer in Charge (OC) of Paltan Bazar police station PrakashTiwari who confirmed the matter. "Our cyber cell will guide us in the theft and so far we don't have anything. The investigation is going on," informed Tiwari.
Are the police equipped enough?
It is indeed acknowledged that gullibility and lack of awareness of people is a factor for these frauds. But the bigger question is whether the police system equipped enough to tackle the menace of cyber crimes? "Day by day, the processes of the scams are getting upgraded. Indeed there is lack of awareness but it is also seen that there is vulnerability among the people," said an official involved with the computer cell of a police station.
As per sources, not all police stations are equipped with cyber cells and possess only a computer cell, where other work involving data entry is also done.
The following concerns are alarming as most internet users in Assam faced some or the other form of cyber attack in the last one year. This was found in a survey conducted by the Assam Police Cyber Peace Foundation (CPF) in October 2020. A total of 700 people from across Assam participated in the survey.
The study found that 70 percent cyber crimes were conducted for stealing data from the computer hardware, 71 percent were reported for online harassment, 78 percent for hacking, another 68 percent for online impersonation and 64 percent fake news report.
Meanwhile, the Cyber Crime Branch has been active to tackle the menace of such cyber crimes. "We provide a technicality backup to the police stations," said Barun Purkayastha, DCP (Crime) Guwahati. He further stated that outreach programs have happened previously to increase awareness and such programs are also planned ahead to tackle the awareness side of the problem.