In yet another case of ‘FedEx courier’ scam, Rs 83 lakhs was extorted from a 60-year-old Indian Institute of Science (IISc) professor in Bengaluru. A call centre employee threatened the professor that she would be arrested, by falsely alleging that she had sent a parcel with drugs and passports. The scam has been going on for a while with many people targeted by those impersonating as FedEx employees and law enforcement officials. Bengaluru police has reported 163 cases of FedEx courier fraud, involving more than Rs 5 crores, this year till August, which resulted in a total loss exceeding Rs 5 crore.
According to a Times of India report, at around 4 pm on December 15, the professor had received a call from an unknown number, from a person who claimed to be a FedEx staff member from Mumbai. The caller informed her that a parcel that she sent was intercepted by Mumbai Customs officials, who found that she illegally smuggled drugs and passports. He later connected her to another person over a video call. That person who was in a police uniform - showed some papers with the letterhead of Mumbai police, Reserve Bank, etc and an ID card.
The fake policeman further claimed that the professor had been booked under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act, as well as the Prevention of Money Laundering Act, and would be arrested unless she cooperated with the investigation. The next day, they asked her to transfer money to their accounts, in order to verify her account. She had reportedly transferred Rs 43 lakh to the account of one Sardar Khan; Rs 25 lakh to another account in the same name and Rs 15 lakh to other accounts given by him.
They had disconnected the call saying the money would be returned after verification. However, realising that she had been cheated, she contacted the cybercrime helpline, who directed her to file a police complaint. Based on a complaint she filed with the Sadashivanagar police, an investigation is underway.
On December 2, a 52-year-old businessman from HSR Layout received a similar call saying that a package – purportedly containing methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a synthetic drug that is banned in India – from Taiwan to him was intercepted. He ended up losing Rs 1.98 crore.
It is important to bear in mind that law enforcement officials do not initiate contact through Skype or other video calls, and there are standard procedures for communication regarding cases against a person. If you suspect that you fell victim or are falling victim to such a scam, contact emergency services by dialling 112 or 1930.
FedEx, in a statement shared with TNM, said, "FedEx does not request personal information through unsolicited phone calls, mail, or email for goods being shipped or held, unless requested or initiated by customers. If any individual receives any suspicious phone calls or messages, they are advised not to provide their personal information. Instead, they should immediately contact the local law enforcement authorities within the vicinity or report to the cybercrime department of the government of India."