Bengaluru residents targeted in elaborate FedEx scam, businessman loses Rs 1.98 crore

Bengaluru police reported a spike in 'FedEx courier' fraud, with 163 cases registered as of August this year.
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In a series of alarming incidents, residents of Bengaluru have fallen victim to a sophisticated scam involving impersonation of FedEx employees and law enforcement officials. The latest victim is Amit (name changed), a 52-year-old businessman from HSR Layout, who lost Rs 1.98 crore.

How the ‘FedEx courier’ fraud works

Amit’s ordeal began on December 2 when he received a call from an individual posing as a FedEx courier person. The caller informed Amit that a package – purportedly containing methylenedioxymethamphetamine (MDMA), a synthetic drug that is banned in India – coming from Taiwan and addressed to him was intercepted.

In most cases, the victims have no involvement in sending or receiving the package. But the scamsters inform the victims that the call will be transferred to the Mumbai Police Cyber Cell, suggesting impending legal trouble and creating fear and anxiety.

In Amit’s case too, the call was then transferred to the “cybercrime branch of the Mumbai police.” A man posing as a police officer talked to Amit over a Skype video call and told him that his name had surfaced in a money laundering investigation linked to the intercepted package. Amit was then led to believe that he needed to transfer a substantial sum of money to a “stipulated account” to verify the serious allegations against him. Amit was not allowed to get off the Skype call for more than two days and even his wife was engaged on a call with another person claiming to be from law enforcement. 

The scamsters made Amit and his wife stay in separate hotel rooms for two days, all while engaging in a continuous Skype video call with them. Amit only realised he had been duped after transferring a colossal amount of Rs 1.98 crore to the fraudulent account.

DCP South East CK Baba told TNM that in 95% of reported cases, victims had not ordered any package from abroad. The scammers deliberately create fear in the minds of the victims by alleging involvement in money laundering activities through multiple bank accounts linked to their Aadhaar numbers.

Read: Online frauds using engineering on the rise, scamsters exploit fear 

Rising cases of financial scams

Bengaluru police reported 163 cases of FedEx courier fraud this year till August, which resulted in a total loss exceeding Rs 5 crore. Authorities stress the need for awareness and prevention as the primary means to combat this growing menace. According to the latest information from the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), the city accounted for a worrying 73.4% of the total 13,534 cyber crime cases reported across 19 metropolitan cities in 2022.

Adding to the list of financial scams plaguing the city is the rise in the ‘online job’ scam. Perpetrated through messages on WhatsApp and Telegram, this scam lures victims with various job opportunities, ranging from simple tasks like liking and subscribing to YouTube videos to more complex assignments such as writing Google reviews, hotel and travel reviews, and cryptocurrency trading.

Victims initially receive small sums, but as their involvement deepens they are added to a larger Telegram group. They are tricked into believing they are getting paid huge amounts of money amounting to several lakhs for the tasks given to them, through fake screenshots of bank transactions. They are then asked to pay a 10% processing fee to access that supposed amount they have earned. This often pushes them into financial distress, leading to borrowing from banks and friends or pledging jewellery. 

How to protect yourself from the FedEx scam

FedEx verification: Always verify the status of any package directly on the official FedEx website. Do not click on links sent via SMS, email, or WhatsApp, as scammers frequently exploit these channels to deceive victims. Most often you wouldn’t have ordered any package, so do not engage with the scammers.

Avoid sharing sensitive information: Never disclose your UPI PIN, UPI ID, or any other confidential bank details to strangers, particularly over the phone.

Promptly end suspicious calls: If a phone call raises suspicions, promptly end the call without further engagement. Scammers often use psychological tactics to manipulate emotions and decision-making.

Police / ED / IT will not call you: Law enforcement officials do not initiate contact through Skype calls. Standard procedures exist for communication. Even if you find yourself embroiled in a money laundering case, legitimate authorities will issue formal notices rather than requesting sensitive credentials or coercing you into making substantial payments. Stay vigilant and cautious, as fraudulent calls often involve threats and illegitimate demands for money.

Report calls immediately: If you suspect that you fell victim to such a scam, contact emergency services by dialling 112 or 1930. Alternatively, visit the nearest Cyber Crime Police Station to file a formal complaint promptly.

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