A new scam: Fake Facebook profiles of TN cops that extort money from users

In recent weeks, several police officers have found their Facebook profiles being imitated by unidentified persons, who then have asked money from the officers’ online contacts.
Cyber Crime Tamil Nadu
Cyber Crime Tamil Nadu
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In the recent past, several police officers across ranks have faced instances where their social media profiles are being replicated by unidentified persons, who use it to demand monetary favours from the police officers’ contacts online. Recently, on September 25, S Saravanan, the Deputy Commissioner of Police of Tirunelveli City, tweeted screenshots of a Facebook profile, informing his followers that it was a fake profile set up in his name. The officer, who goes by the name Arjun Saravanan on social media, warned his followers not to accept any requests for Facebook friendship or money from the particular profile.

A day later, on September 26, V Balakrishnan, a Tamil Nadu police officer in the rank of Deputy Inspector General (DIG), also posted a similar message on his original Facebook page. “I have not sent friend’s request to anyone. So please ignore if there is any such request. In the meantime, I am checking my account whether it has been hacked,” he wrote. A few hours later, he posted that the imposter was apparently asking for monetary favours from users, posing as him.

In recent times, the social media accounts of many such police officers have been targeted by imposters, who make fake profiles in similar names to extort money from gullible users. Apart from V Balakrishnan and S Saravanan, at least three other officers have also reportedly warned their social media followers about the imposters trying to extort money by posing as policemen.

TNM spoke to V Balakrishnan, who confirmed that there has indeed been a spike in such targeted activities on the social media accounts of police officers in the past few weeks. “A few of my batchmates in other states have also been subjected to such targeted attacks in the recent past and those cases are being investigated in their own states,” he said.

Explaining how he found that his Facebook profile was being impersonated, Balakrishnan said that one of his friends alerted him when he received a friend request from the impersonator. “I told that friend to engage the imposter in a conversation on Facebook chat and find out more details. Apparently, the imposter asked my friend for money, bank account details and also shared a UPI-linked phone number to make the transfer,” he said.

Balakrishnan has reported the incident to the Cyber Cell division of the Central Crime Branch (CCB) of Tamil Nadu, which is currently investigating the case. “I also found out some details about the suspects and have handed over that information also to the CCB,” he added. 

These cyber-attacks on the social media profiles of police officers come at a time when Tamil Nadu police have been creating awareness among the general public to not fall prey to cyber-phishing attempts and other cybercrimes through phones and internet.

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