In A Bid To Save ₹700 On A Liquor Bottle, Woman Ends up Losing ₹62,000 To Cyber Fraudster

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As the liquor outlets enabled the convenience of exploring online and delivering at the doorstep in this prevailing new normal, cyber fraudsters are quick to take advantage of the situation.

A 38-year-old woman hailing from a multi-storey society at Powai area of Mumbai, who was also a senior executive at a private firm, had fallen prey to a cybercriminal. She lost a whole sum of INR 62,000 in an online transaction when she was trying to buy a branded champagne bottle at a discounted price of INR 1000 near her house. 

According to the cybercrime department of police, the aforementioned online fraud was specified as “search engine listing fraud“.

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As people are avoiding to venture out from home nowadays, the victim searched on the web for ‘wine shop’ in Powai, Hiranandani gardens on Monday afternoon. She then found an online listing offering INR 700 discount on a branded champagne near her home. Tempted by the offer, she picked up the number from the search results and called them to place her order. A man named Prakash Sharma answered her call and introduced himself as a manager of the shop mentioned on the web. 

The ordeal of the women started when she was about to place the order. The man, posing as the shop owner, asked her to pay the full amount of INR 1000 at once. She told him that she would be paying through her e-wallet. But he refused and told her that they don’t have an e-wallet option to process her payment; instead, she can give him either her debit or credit card details to process the payment at their side.

Without knowing that she was being duped, the unsuspecting woman gave all the card details like name, date of birth, expiry date and the CVV number. After saying all the card details, the man asked for the OTP to process the payment of INR 1000. Out of her excitement for securing nearly 40% discount on her order, she gave him the OTP, and the transaction was done smoothly.

You must be wondering what’s wrong with the transaction! The ordeal for woman is about to begins now!

Right at the moment when she was about to end the call, the man asked her for another OTP to close the payment process. The naive women without noticing the transaction gave another OTP also. Suddenly INR 61,000 got debited from her account. 

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When she asked him for the refund he asked her another OTP; then she realised that the OTP was generated to debit another INR 51000 from her account. She then disconnected the call and went to the nearby wine shop to complain about the transaction and ask for a refund. 

On approaching the wine shop, she was shocked to know that a cybercriminal deceived her. The manager in the wine shop is not the one who spoke with her over the phone. And came to know that the online number was not that shop’s number and many people are facing the same kind of fraud recently.

The woman then reached the Powai police station and filed her complaint. The Powai police then got information from the bank’s credit card department to trace and find out the fraudster. 

“The fraudster had used a photo of the wine shop and manager on the WhatsApp profile,” the woman told the Police.

The case has been filed under the sections of Information Technology (IT) act and under section 419 (cheating by personation), 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) act. The police also said that they are receiving a lot of complaints from people about the same wine shop number.

Even though the people are well educated, the fancy of discounts pulls them out of their mind. Awareness plays a vital part in our everyday life. As ignorance is the mother of all evil, it is essential to know that we should not share the details of the payment instrument to anybody out of mere trust. Also, it is always better to verify the text information in the OTP generated before proceeding further. A recent study states that there will be a global cyber fraud of about $200 billion in the next five years. Sound awareness can only curb such fraudulent activities, either online or offline.

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