Pune woman loses Rs 1.6 crore to cyber fraudsters under guise of ‘National Security Threat’

Pune woman loses Rs 1.6 crore to cyber fraudsters under guise of ‘National Security Threat’

Pune woman loses Rs 1.6 crore to cyber fraudsters under guise of ‘National Security Threat’

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A 67-year-old woman from Pune fell victim to a cyber scam, losing Rs 1.6 crore of her life savings. The woman, residing in Kothrud, received a call alleging her phone number had been used to send lewd messages and that she had been booked by the Mumbai police.

Threatened with an arrest warrant under the pretext of a ‘national security threat’ and a ‘Supreme Court case,’ she was warned that any disclosure would result in her children’s arrest and the seizure of their assets. The victim reported the incident to the Cyber Crime police station in Pune earlier this week.

In the first week of May, she received a call from a man claiming to be a sub-inspector from the Tilak Nagar police station in Mumbai, using the name of an IPS officer currently posted in Pune. He alleged that lewd messages were sent from her phone number and demanded her personal, financial, and Aadhar details for clarification. He then falsely informed her that an FIR had been registered in the Supreme Court, including charges of money laundering, and that a CBI officer would contact her for assistance.

The next day, she received a video call from a man posing as a ‘CBI officer,’ using the name of another serving IPS officer. This fake officer claimed that to verify the legitimacy of the funds in her account and ensure they were not used for money laundering, all her money needed to be transferred to ‘beneficiary accounts held by the Reserve Bank of India.’ He told her the case was covered under ‘national secrets’ and involved serious criminal acts. Fearful of legal consequences, the woman transferred Rs one crore and Rs 29 lakh from two different accounts.

During these transfers, the complainant was kept on messenger calls and told she was under surveillance. The ‘CBI officer’ warned her not to discuss the case with anyone, or her children would be arrested, and their assets seized by the government. She was then instructed to transfer an additional Rs 50 lakh to the ‘Supreme Court,’ leading her to transfer over Rs 30 lakh more.

As the demands escalated, the woman finally confided in her daughter, who realized she had been duped by cyber criminals. She then registered a complaint with the Cyber Crime portal, and the case was referred to the Cyber Crime police station of Pune City.

An officer from the Cyber Crime police station noted that the crime’s modus operandi was similar to the ‘drugs in parcel’ scam, but with different threats. In a related case at the Wakad police station in Pimpri Chinchwad, a software engineer in his 40s was cheated of Rs 40 lakh after being told his number was used to abuse a woman and was threatened with action under the ‘National Secret Rule.’

These scams typically involve fraudsters impersonating IPS officers to coerce victims into transferring money for various fabricated reasons, such as customs fees or legal charges, and claiming their bank accounts are at risk from hackers. Victims are often intimidated with threats of surveillance by authorities.