NEW DELHI: The Cyber Police Station of the Outer District in Delhi has apprehended an African national, identified as Big Jos, alias Joseph, hailing from Ghana, for orchestrating an elaborate online fraud operation that targeted unsuspecting individuals, mainly lonely or single women. The arrest comes after a complaint filed by Babli, a resident of Delhi, who fell victim to this heartless scam.
The Deceptive Beginning
Babli’s ordeal began in July 2023 when she received a friend request on her Instagram account from an unknown user who claimed to be from the United States and working as a pilot. Intrigued by the seemingly charming stranger, she accepted the friend request. What followed were regular conversations and chats on WhatsApp, not only with this mysterious individual but also with a group of other foreign friends.
A Deceptive Promise and a Dubious Call
As their virtual friendship blossomed, the Instagram user made an enticing promise to Babli – he would send her a gift parcel, which would include US dollars. Soon after, Babli received an unexpected phone call from a woman claiming to be from the customs department. This caller provided three bank account numbers and insisted that Babli make payments to cover custom duties and other taxes for the anticipated parcel.
Trusting the individuals she had been communicating with, Babli complied and transferred a staggering sum of 1.71 lakh rupees to the provided accounts. However, her faith was betrayed as the alleged persons promptly went off the grid, with their mobile phones switched off, and the Instagram user deleting their WhatsApp chats. It was then that Babli realized she had fallen victim to an elaborate hoax.
The Police Action
Following Babli’s complaint, the Cyber Police Station acted swiftly, registering a case under FIR No. 0063/2023, invoking sections 419, 420, 120B, and 34 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). The investigation included detailed technical surveillance of the alleged Instagram IDs and WhatsApp numbers, which eventually led to a breakthrough.
On September 14, 2023, a raid was conducted at Vikas Vihar, Nilothi Extn., Nihal Vihar, Delhi. During this operation, Big Jos, also known as Joseph, was arrested. He is a resident of Ghana, Africa, and has been living in India without valid visa documents since July 2018. The police also recovered the mobile phones used in the commission of the crime during the raid.
The Fraudulent Scheme
As the investigation unfolded, the accused, Big Jos, disclosed a chilling modus operandi. He, along with his associates, was engaged in creating fake profiles of NRIs, particularly US and UK citizens working as doctors, pilots, and other respected professions, on various social media platforms. They targeted mainly lonely or single women by sending multiple friend requests.
Once the victims accepted their friend requests, the accused individuals would initiate conversations, slowly building trust. After gaining their confidence, they would deceive the victims with the promise of sending expensive gifts via parcels that supposedly required custom clearance. Fake calls from purported customs offices or airports followed, demanding exorbitant sums of money as customs duties and other fees to release these fictitious gift parcels.
While the arrest of Big Jos is a significant breakthrough, the investigation into this heartless scam is still ongoing. Authorities are working diligently to uncover the full extent of the operation and identify any additional perpetrators involved.
In light of this disturbing case, law enforcement agencies are advising the public, especially those active on social media platforms, to exercise caution when receiving unsolicited friend requests and to be vigilant about sharing personal information and making financial transactions online.
The arrest of Big Jos sheds light on the dangers of online scams and the importance of online safety awareness in an increasingly digital world.
MODUS-OPERANDI OF GIFTING SCAM
- Fake Profiles Creation:
- The criminals create fake profiles pretending to be successful people like doctors, businessmen or pilots on social media.
- Sending Friend Requests:
- They send friend requests to unsuspecting people, especially those who seem lonely or are single, making it look like they want to be friends.
- Gaining Trust:
- Once the request is accepted, they start chatting with the person, gaining their trust over time.
- Promising Expensive Gifts:
- They make promises of sending expensive gifts, like parcels with money, to make the person excited and happy.
- Fake Calls from Customs:
- The criminals make fake phone calls, pretending to be from the customs department, saying that the gift parcels are held and need custom fees to be paid.
- Demanding Money:
- They ask the person to pay a lot of money as customs fees and other charges to release the fake gift parcels.
- Disappearing Act:
- After receiving the money, they vanish, turning off their phones and deleting their messages, leaving the person cheated and heartbroken.
This deceitful scheme preys on people’s trust and emotions, tricking them into giving away their money with false promises. It’s essential to be cautious and not fall for such scams.
Staying safe from online scams and frauds, particularly those involving deceitful practices like the one described, is crucial. Here are some tips to protect yourself from such crimes in India:
- Be Skeptical of Unsolicited Friend Requests:
- Avoid accepting friend requests from strangers or profiles with incomplete information or suspicious details.
- Verify Identities:
- Before trusting someone online, try to verify their identity through mutual connections or additional online research.
- Limit Personal Information:
- Be cautious about sharing personal information, including your contact details, address, financial information, or any other sensitive data online.
- Educate Yourself and Others:
- Stay informed about common scams and frauds and educate your friends and family about potential online risks and how to avoid them.
- Double-Check Requests for Money:
- Never send money to someone you haven’t met in person or who asks for money through messages, especially for unclear reasons.
- Use Strong Passwords:
- Create strong, unique passwords for your social media accounts and change them regularly. Avoid using easily guessable passwords like birthdays or names.
- Enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA):
- Enable 2FA for your social media accounts to add an extra layer of security and prevent unauthorized access.
- Beware of Suspicious Phone Calls:
- Don’t provide personal or financial information over the phone, especially if the call is unexpected or from an unknown source.
- Verify Official Calls:
- If someone claims to be from an official organization, call the organization directly using a publicly available number to confirm the call’s authenticity.
- Report Suspicious Activity:
- If you suspect any fraudulent activity, report it to your local police and to the concerned online platform to prevent others from falling victim to the scam.
- Stay Updated with Security Measures:
- Keep your devices, operating systems, and applications updated to the latest security patches to mitigate potential vulnerabilities.
- Consult Cybersecurity Experts:
- If you have concerns about online safety, consult cybersecurity professionals or organizations for guidance on securing your online presence.
Being vigilant, cautious, and proactive in safeguarding your personal information and being aware of potential scams can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to online frauds and scams.