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Online ‘Special 26’: Scammers dupe high profile victims while posing as law enforcement officers to extort money

The scammer posing as a CBI officer informed her that there was a case of human trafficking, money laundering, and identity theft, she said. 

Two sensational cases of Cybercrime have made headlines in less than a week, causing an alarming concern. Strikingly, a 52-year-old software engineer hailing from Bengaluru recently lost Rs 2.24 crores after he fell prey to cybercrime. As per reports, the scammers had posed as Delhi Customs and Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) official.

Days earlier, a Bengaluru-based woman lawyer was duped Rs 15 lakh in a similar incident. Reportedly, the scammers posed as CBI officers who made her strip on camera on the pretext of conducting ‘narcotic tests’. They later extorted money from her by threatening to release her private videos.  

Scammers posing as Delhi Customs and NCB officials defrauded Bengaluru Software engineer

According to reports, 52-year-old software engineer Kumaraswamy Sivakumar, who hails from Jakkur, received a call on 18th March. The caller posed himself as an officer from Delhi customs. They alleged that an air parcel addressed to him had been detained at Delhi Airport. It had 16 passports, 58 ATM cards, and 140 grams of Ecstacy tablets and it was sent to Delhi from Malaysia. 

The call was then transferred to another man who introduced himself as an NCB officer and forced Sivakumar to download Skype for further interaction. Later, they demanded money to resolve the fabricated case. Between 18th and 24th March, the victim Sivakumar transferred Rs 2.24 crore in eight installments via Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) and Immediate Payment Service (IMPS).

He, however, realised that he was cheated on 5th April and consequently went on to file a case in Bengaluru Northeast Cyber Police Station. 

Bengaluru Lawyer defrauded in a ‘FedEx scam’, made to strip for ‘narcotics test’ in over 35-hour call

Previously, a 29-year-old lawyer hailing from Bengaluru, Karnataka became a victim of ‘FedEx’ fraud. FedEx is an international courier giant. In this case, the scammers had posed as CBI officers and made her transfer around Rs 15 lakh. As per reports, the woman was forced to remain on a Skype call for over 35-hour during which she was made to strip on camera in the pretext of conducting a “narcotic test”. 

According to the police, the victim received a call from scammers who claimed that a package in her name containing illegal drugs had been delivered to Thailand. The call escalated into a nearly one-and-a-half-day-long call, during which the scammers recorded her nude and blackmailed her for ransom, threatening to sell the clipping on the dark web. The victim, a lawyer at a private firm, lost Rs 14.57 lakh over the 35-hour call, which lasted from 2:15 PM on April 3 to 1:15 AM on April 5.

Later, the victim female lawyer filed a complaint in this regard at the Bengaluru East division cybercrime police station. 

The victim received a call from the scammer who claimed to be from the customer care of FedEx, an international courier giant. He told her that a parcel in her name had been returned and she had to speak to the customer care executive. 

The person posing as a FedEx executive alleged that the parcel contained five passports, three credit cards, and 140 synthetic narcotics (MDMA) and it was sent from Mumbai to Thailand in her name. 

She was informed that because the package contained narcotics, it had been detained. If she hadn’t ordered it, she was advised to contact the cybercrime team in Mumbai to report identity theft.

In her complaint, she said, “After I confirmed that yes, I wanted to make an identity theft complaint, they transferred my call to the cybercrime team in Mumbai. The cybercrime team asked me to download Skype and enter an email ID to chat with them.” 

Later when she gave them her credentials, “I was then informed that my Aadhaar card was on high alert for human trafficking and drugs. After this, the Skype call was transferred to an alleged senior CBI officer named Abhishek Chauhan where I was asked to switch on the camera and start a conversation,” the complainant added.

The scammer posing as a CBI officer informed her that there was a case of human trafficking, money laundering, and identity theft, she said. 

She told the police, “They kept grilling me about my bank account details such as my existing balance, my annual CTC, my monthly income and my investments. I gave them all the needed information.” 

The scammers forced her to take an oath that she would not disclose any details with anyone until the investigation was completed as this was a ‘highly sensitive case’ and the fabricated case also involved police and politicians. 

They asked her to remain online with the camera on so that they could ensure that she didn’t call or text anyone. In her complaint, the victim said for an entire day, I was watched even during the night. I was asked to keep the camera on and sleep.  

As per the complaint, the scammers forced her to strip and pose on camera on the pretext of conducting ‘narcotic tests’. She added that she was threatened to continue doing it or else she and her family would be arrested in a drug case.

The complaint further states, “The alleged officer later blackmailed me that if I don’t give him Rs 10 lakh by 3 pm on April 5, he will sell her video to multiple people including the dark web.” 

Meanwhile, as per reports, a total of 25 people have been cheated to the tune of roughly Rs 4 crore in Bengaluru Northeast jurisdiction alone since the beginning of April.

These recurrent cases of Cybercrime have brought to the spotlight a growing trend in which scammers have adopted this modus operandi that resembles the online version of the plot shown in the old Bollywood film, ‘Special 26’. A general pattern has been observed in these cyber fraud cases, where scammers pose as law enforcement officers. They extort money from their victims by falsely alleging that the victims or their relatives are in legal trouble and can be saved if the victims release large sums of money to the scammers’ accounts. 

To prevent becoming a victim of cybercrime, it’s crucial for users to refrain from making major decisions ‘one random’ call or interaction with ‘strangers’. Even if the claims seem legitimate, it’s essential to seek assistance from law enforcement and legal professionals. It’s advisable to independently verify any legal documents claimed by individuals over time, rather than relying solely on online interactions.

For example – In instances where a random caller purports to be a law enforcement official, alleging the detention of a family member and demanding ransom for their release, it’s imperative to exercise caution. Rather than hastily succumbing to fabricated claims, it’s prudent to verify the situation by ensuring the physical presence of the purportedly detained relative and seeking confirmation from the appropriate authorities before considering any agreements.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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OpIndia Staff
OpIndia Staff
Staff reporter at OpIndia

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