Senior citizen duped of ₹8 lakh in `gift fraud'

A 68-year-old tution teacher here was allegedly cheated of more than 8 lakh by a fraudster who befriended her on Facebook by posing as a pilot with an international airline, police said on Friday. 

The woman lodged a complaint at Mahim police station on Thursday, said an official. She received a friend request on Facebook from one `Dev Patel’ on May 12, as per her complaint. She accepted it, and soon the two started chatting on phone with the man claiming that he was a pilot with British Airways. A few days later, the man told her that he had sent her a gift. 

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On May 30, the complainant received a call. The woman on the other end, who identified herself as `Dikshita Arora from Delhi Customs’, said a parcel had arrived in her name from Dubai but she would have to deposit 70,000 to get it. 

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The complainant immediately sent 70,000 through UPI. Next she was told that there were 80 British pound sterlings inside the parcel, sent illegally, and she will have to pay another 2.95 lakh or the “crime branch” will arrest her. Frightened, the woman paid multiple times as threats kept coming. Between June 1 to 10, she transferred almost 8.15 lakh before realising that this was a scam, the police official said. The Facebook friend, who had posed as a pilot, had stopped responding to her calls and messages in the meanwhile. 

A case of cheating under IPC section 420 was registered and probe was on, the official said.

To shield yourself from online scams, consider the following precautionary steps:

1. Use Trusted Apps: Install reliable apps, such as “Fraud Alert” by CERT-In, “mSafe” by NCSAP, and Google’s “Anti-Phishing App,” to safeguard against scams. These apps provide real-time alerts, security advice, and protection from phishing attacks.

2. Limit Personal Information: Exercise caution when sharing personal details online. Avoid divulging sensitive data like phone numbers, email addresses, and bank account information to unfamiliar sources.

3. Question Unsolicited Requests: Be skeptical of emails and messages requesting personal data, as scammers often use such tactics to steal sensitive information.

4. Source Verified Apps: Download apps exclusively from trusted sources like official app stores and refrain from downloading from third-party platforms.

5. Maintain Software Updates: Regularly update your software to benefit from security patches that guard against malware and other threats.

6. Verify Claims: Disregard offers of free gifts from unknown individuals and avoid making online payments without proper verification of the source.


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