GREATER NOIDA: A retired officer of the Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL) lost Rs 52 lakh over two years after he was conned by a gang who contacted him over phone calls and WhatsApp messages on pretext of renewing his lapsed life insurance policy.
The police in Greater Noida on Tuesday arrested five members of the gang, including its mastermind, who were behind the fraud with the 75-year-old man.
The police also claimed that the thugs have been involved in many more such con jobs since 2019 and have been cheating unsuspecting, gullible people after obtaining their contacts and policy details online through call centres.
Forged Stamps Of Ministry, RBI And Forged Letters
Greater Noida’s Deputy Commissioner of Police Abhishek Verma said the police also recovered fake stamps of the Union Finance Ministry and the Reserve Bank of India from the possession of the gang.
The gang also sent forged letters in the name of the ministry and the RBI to the victim over WhatsApp in order to convince him into believing that they are genuine representatives.
How The Victim Was Trapped
According to police, Ashok Kumar Sharma had purchased an insurance policy six years ago but had to discontinue paying its premium due to his financial conditions which led the policy getting lapsed.
However, two years ago, he started getting phone calls by people who identified themselves as representatives of insurance companies and the RBI to say that his insurance policy could be revived. They also told him that the fund in his insurance has increased to Rs 1.20 crore which he will be able to withdraw now.
“One of the representatives kept a regular touch with Sharma and sent him forged documents over WhatsApp which had letters bearing seals of the Finance Ministry, the RBI, etc. However, Sharma was asked on multiple occasions to transfer funds on pretext of processing charges, etc. For over two years, the retired officer ended up transferring Rs 52 lakh in total to them in the hope of getting his insurance money,” the police said.
Data Leak And Fraud Tele-Callers
DCP Abhishek Verma said the gang has duped several other people in a similar manner and the amount of fraud runs into crores till date.
“Deepak Kumar, the key person in the gang, has been active in duping people since 2019. Prior to this case, he had been conning people of smaller amounts only, but this time he had obtained complete insurance details of Sharma and went for a big fraud,” Verma told reporters.
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“The gang would obtain details of insurance policies of customers through its network. They knew when a person’s policy was on verge of lapsing or expiring. They would then pose as tele-callers from the insurance company and ask customers to pay some amount in some bank accounts to renew it,” he said.
Among others arrested is Deepak’s wife Priyanka, who is also a police constable in Shamli district of Uttar Pradesh, according to the officer.
Legal Action Against Culprits
The five accused who have been arrested were produced in a local court in Greater Noida on Tuesday. They were sent to judicial custody for 14 days by the judge.
The FIR has been lodged under sections 420 (cheating), 120B (party to criminal conspiracy), 467, 471 (both related to forgery) of the Indian Penal Code as well as under provisions of the Information Technology Act.
How To Avoid Such Traps
While there is no doubt that technological advancements have helped us a great deal, there is also no denying the fact that the threat of cyber crimes in our lives has also increased.
Common activities and works like a renewal of life insurance or vehicle insurance, payment of electricity or water bills, search for jobs or business opportunities, etc are works where one needs to be extra careful if doing online.
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Experts suggest that lucrative offers like manifold financial benefits on investments, lotteries, cash-rich job opportunities by people who contact you over phone or email could possibly be a fraud attempt.
The need for people is to stay careful in dealing with such situations, and cross-verifying the identity of people or organizations with whom they are interacting.
Another factor to be kept in mind always is being careful in sharing information personal or financial information online or over telephone with strangers, or even known persons. Sensitisation towards data privacy is the need of the hour.
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