MUMBAI: In a heart-wrenching case of cyber fraud, a septuagenarian couple from South Mumbai, who had previously worked for leading corporate houses, has fallen victim to a malicious scam, losing more than Rs 4 crore within just four months. The couple’s ordeal began when the wife, the complainant in this case, received a seemingly convincing phone call from an individual claiming to be from the Employees’ Provident Fund Organisation. Little did they know that this call would lead to a devastating financial loss.
Gaining Trust with Personal Details
The caller, who was remarkably well-prepared, managed to gain the trust of the elderly woman by providing specific information, including the name of her husband’s former company, his PAN card number, and retirement details. These seemingly legitimate details instilled a sense of trust in the couple, setting the stage for the fraudulent scheme.
False Promises and Manipulative Tactics
The fraudulent caller proceeded to make enticing promises, informing the complainant that her husband’s former company had maintained a provident fund of Rs 4 lakh for investment. According to the caller, this fund had matured after 20 years, and the couple was entitled to receive a staggering sum of Rs 11 crore. However, there was a catch: the couple was asked to transfer funds to cover various expenses, including TDS, GST, and income tax.
A Daring Financial Scam
The cybercriminal didn’t stop at mere promises; she employed various manipulative tactics to strip the couple of their hard-earned savings. Importantly, she never sent any suspicious links or QR codes, relying instead on direct communication with the victim. The woman ingeniously used over a dozen bank accounts to receive the massive sum of Rs 4 crore.
Within a span of just four months, the elderly couple’s accounts were emptied, leaving them in financial turmoil.
Threats and Intimidation
When the complainant expressed concern about the lack of funds, the deceiver resorted to threats and intimidation. The caller menacingly claimed that the amount the couple had paid would be frozen, and the Income Tax department would soon be at their doorstep. Additionally, the accused warned that their other bank accounts linked to their PAN card would also be blocked, leaving the couple with nowhere to turn.
The relentless psychological pressure reached a point where the victims asked for a refund of their money, expressing their unwillingness to proceed with the alleged provident fund scheme.
False Assurance from Impersonators
In a surprising twist, two men posing as representatives from the Income Tax department and the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) contacted the complainant. These impostors assured her that the process to release the promised Rs 11 crore was nearing completion, further complicating an already intricate web of deception.
Legal Action Taken
The ordeal prompted the couple to file an FIR (First Information Report) with the Cuffe Parade police, leading to the registration of a case under several sections of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and various sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act, including identity theft.
Supervised by Deputy Commissioner of Police Pravin Munde, the investigation is now in the capable hands of a dedicated team, comprising Inspector Anant Salunkhe, Assistant Police Inspector Amit Deokar, Sub-Inspector Kunal Gholap, and Constable Prakash Bari.
This distressing case serves as a stark reminder of the dangers of cyber fraud and the importance of vigilance, especially among the elderly population who may not be as familiar with the tactics employed by these cunning criminals. Authorities are actively investigating the matter, and the hope is to bring those responsible to justice while raising awareness about such scams in the community.
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