Cyber frauds come in the way of Hyderabadi volunteers doing relief works

The phone numbers of attendants put on social media are being misused by frauds who are looting money from people in need.
Representation image for cyber frauds
Representation image for cyber frauds
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Raghu* was in need of an Amphotericin B Liposomal injection for his family member, who was dealing with COVID-19 related complications and was in an emergency situation. Trying his luck, Raghu checked social media, after coming to know about some volunteers who were helping people, and posted his concern along with his mobile number by tagging some of those handles. Raghu got a call from an anonymous number, from a man who claimed his name was ‘Sai Charan’. The caller claimed he would arrange the injection by evening and would need Rs 4000 in advance. The money was sent through an online transaction, after which there was no response from that number. 

Now when the actual Sai Charan — a COVID-19 volunteer — was contacted by Raghu in a direct message on Twitter asking for the injection, Charan said that he had not made any call. Charan has now registered a cyber complaint that someone else is using his name and making calls to cheat people for money. The cyber police have stepped in and they have traced the number to a private employee in Warangal district, who is cheating patients in the name of various volunteers.

This is one of many such complaints that some of the volunteers, who are doing COVID-19 relief work via social media, are receiving every day. While some cyber frauds are using the contact details of the patient attendants and are misusing them for money, some others are even raising donations in their names, forcing these volunteers to post again and again that they are not a part of any organisation and do not seek any money.

“I am not seeking money in any form for the services that I'm doing. These days I am mostly into relief services, I coordinate bed and ventilator availability and arrange injections through government official sources for the needy. However, many people are calling the patients and misleading them and taking money from them in my name,” adds Sai Charan, speaking to The News Minute.

He further adds, “When patients' relatives post details, they should be careful and should not put their numbers on social media, as they can be easily misused by the miscreants. It's better to contact people directly through direct messages itself. It is also better to verify these handles with some background check and then proceed for help."

Volunteers have also raised another issue of fake promises on social media. “Some handles, which are even being endorsed by some celebrities without proper verification, are promising help to patients. With this, genuine volunteers are staying away from the request as someone said they are taking care, but later on we are getting calls that they have not received any help. This has been the case many times; the handles which are making fake promises are not helping anyone,” says Sai Teja, another activist, who is running free cremation services for COVID-19 victims.

Many other volunteers have discussed their issues through Twitter spaces on Thursday.  They have come to a decision to have better coordination among themselves and are requesting requesters not to post their numbers on social media.

The volunteers added that one should not make any kind of advance payments on the promise of delivering those 'life saving' medicines, as many of these medicines are now being supplied only through hospitals or  upon the directions of Minster KT Rama Rao.

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