Trust the professional conmen to find new ways of cheating the gullible and the innocent. The latest to come to light is the use of online markets like OLX to lure customers into making payments for products that are never delivered. There has been a spate of such complaints in the Cybercrime cell of the Hyderabad police in the recent past.
Explaining the modus operandi, police sources say, the fraudsters usually register themselves on sites like OLX and develop a nice rapport with other users on the platform. Then they say they have a mobile phone to sell and post an image and spell out a price. The buyer falls for it and is willing to take the item. The fraudster posing as an Army employee then wants the buyer to remit the money usually through Paytm or other online sources and then in return receives a courier receipt indicating that the mobile has been couriered. At this stage, the connection goes cold and when the phone does not arrive, the buyer tries to call the seller, there is no response.
The police claim the previous set of complaints used to be about the OTP scams but that has come down now and at least 15 complaints of the Army man con job described above have been registered by the Cybercrime cell on a monthly basis.
Police have had a meeting with the top team at OLX to find ways of solving these crimes. There are software programs which can detect suspicious posts on these online marketplaces. The fraudsters may keep changing their identities and contact numbers within one platform or can switch to other sites when they are caught in the act. That these are seasoned operators can be understood by the fact that they can produce fake courier receipts, befriend someone before making the sale offer and so on. The Army man act is popular since there is a general belief that the military people are honest and trustworthy.
The worrying aspect for the police is that for every complaint registered, there may be several unreported, for various reasons.