Chennai cyber scam victim asked to pay for legal proceedings by another scammer

The cyber crime department can trace up to five layers of transactions and retrieve the money lost in scams. But for this, victims should lodge a complaint within an hour of the incident.
Chennai cyber scam victim asked to pay for legal proceedings by another scammer
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Over the four days between March 10 and 13, Radhika, a Chennai resident, lost Rs 7.7 lakh to a job scam through the Telegram app. On March 14, she filed a complaint with the Tambaram Cyber Crime Police in the city. Two days later, around 10 am on March 16, her phone rang and True Caller identified the number as ‘Cyber Help Desk’. When she answered the call under the presumption that it was a call from the police regarding her complaint, a person who claimed to be from the cyber crime department told her that she needed to pay a fee for the legal proceedings. The caller asked her to pay Rs 12,750 to a bank account he specified. 

“Initially, I thought it was a call from the police station. But he asked all the details of the scam and how much money I had lost. I wondered why a cop would call me to ask for details I had already furnished. I told him that I would get back to him after some time,” Radhika told TNM. Radhika later informed the police officer at the Tambaram station who handled her complaint about the fraudulent ‘Cyber Help Desk’ call. 

Meanwhile, she received two messages from the fraudulent ‘Cyber Help Desk’ number with a reference number for the suspicious phone conversation and details of a bank account. “As per our telephonic conversation, you are requested to submit legal expense of 12750 INR in below mentioned account,” the message read, also including account details and IFSC code of a bank called Utkarsh, a small finance bank, located in Rana Pratap Marg Hazratganj, in far away Lucknow of Uttar Pradesh.   

Radhika acted on the advice of the Tambaram police and avoided falling prey to a second scam.

Read: Chennai woman loses Rs 1.5 crore in courier scam: Police file FIR after 20 days 

The cyber crime police warn that no payment is levied to file a case with the department. 

Speaking to TNM, a senior official from Tambaram Cyber Crime Wing said, “The scammers might have accessed details of the persons who lost their money to the scam. It is better for such victims to not use the phones, phone numbers, and mail IDs that were used when the scammers deceived them.” 

All that victims are expected to for the sake of the investigation is to save the data of the apps that they have used and leave the phone alone, the official said. “It is not advisable for victims to continue online transactions from the same phone. People should not search on Google to get assistance once they lose money,” she said, adding that as most victims do not wish for their family members to learn about the scam, their first response is to search random websites to get the money back. 

“One must understand that it does not work like that. There is a national helpline number and a dedicated website to file a complaint. People should use the facilities that are legal and available to them. There is no other way around,” she explained. 

Read: Tamil Nadu cyber crime department's guidelines on FedEx scam 

Also read: Bengaluru tops cyber crime charts in 2022, reports 73.4% of cases across 19 metros 

How to respond to cyber scams?

According to N Karthikeyan, cyber law expert and cyber crime advocate from Madras High Court, the safest method is to use separate mail IDs and phone numbers for bank transactions and social media platforms. Karthikeyan said that victims should get a new number and move all banking activities to the new number. 

Karthikeyan, who is also a guest lecturer of Cyber Crime and Cyber law at the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), and the National Academy of Customs Indirect Taxes and Narcotics, pointed out two behavioural patterns of victims that further expose them to cyber fraud. 

“The first common reaction is to Google how to retrieve the money from scammers and would land up on fake websites. The second thing that victims do is to post the scams on social media platforms with screenshots of their details and how they lost the money. These fake websites and social media platforms are generally the breeding grounds for cyber criminals,” he noted. He warned that this would alert scammers of other kinds, who would then call the victims claiming to be from the cyber crime department. 

“It is always better to call the toll-free number and lodge a complaint in the official portal to avoid being scammed again. One should not need to go to the nearest police station once they realise they were scammed. Make an immediate call to the national helpline number to freeze the bank accounts and protect your money. It has to be done within 30 minutes to one hour for effective action,” said Karthikeyan. He added that presently, the cybercrime department can trace up to five layers of the transactions and retrieve the money. But people should make the initial call and lodge an online complaint within an hour of the incident, he reiterated.   

If you fall victim to cyber fraud, call the national cyber crime helpline number 1930 to report the incident and get assistance in filing a cyber crime complaint. You can also visit the website to register complaints. 

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