Cheats have started sending messages through SMS, which has a wider reach than the Internet in this region, writes L. Srikrishna
After prank calls, it is through SMS channel now…to deceive public.
Until recently, anyone with an e-mail ID browsing the Internet is likely to have received e mails from unidentified sources saying “congrats…your e-mail ID has won the UK national lottery…You are a proud owner of a big car…” Or, “Hi, got stranded in a hotel in UK, my wallet with currencies and passports had been robbed… Please help. Remit in my bank account…”
For such strange or fictitious mails, the one-line advice from the police is: “Do not respond.” Either delete them from your inbox or ignore it. But few people take this advice seriously. Many go to the police after they realise that they have been taken for a ride.
Police officers in the cyber crime wing say that the cheats have started sending messages through SMS, which has a wider reach than the Internet in this region.
Complainants are drawn not only from cities like Madurai but also from smaller places in Sivaganga and Virudhunagar districts, police said.
A fortnight back, a young woman in Madurai informed the police that she received an SMS saying that her mobile phone number had won a lottery, following which she remitted Rs. 50,000 in a bank account specified by the prankster thinking that she would get several millions.The money, which she had paid on three different dates, was purportedly towards the taxes applicable in the UK. But after a fortnight, when there was no response, she realised that she had been duped. The young woman lodged a complaint.
At Madagupatti in Sivaganga district, a local school teacher remitted around Rs. 3 lakhs in the bank account of the offender after she got an SMS that she had won a lottery. Today, she is looking for help from the police, who are clueless.
According to M. Paneer Selvam, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Madurai city), who had earlier served in Chennai in the Central Crime Branch and was handling bank fraud cases, “the crime is described as Nigerian Scam 419.
A majority of the offenders figuring in such an offence are Nigerian nationals and 419 is the IPC Section that deals with cheating. Thus it has the name. The crime involves a ring leader who operates from abroad, with an accomplice located in New Delhi or Mumbai. The India-based partner recruits local unemployed youth lured by the slogan of “work from home and earn Rs. 10,000 a month.”
The fresh recruits open bank accounts into which the victims deposit the down payments as demanded by the scamster, who then transfers the money out of the country.