Unmarried women over the age of 40 and divorcees registered with marriage portals are being targeted by fraudsters in the guise of prospective grooms in an attempt to cheat them off huge sums of cash. Four women have lodged police complaints after being cheated of lakhs of rupees in what appears to be a new variant of Nigerian fraud.

The recent case of forty-one-year-old Radhika (name changed), a resident of Medavakkam, is a classic example. Having registered with a well-known marriage portal in September 2010, she was approached by a man who claimed to be Danish Kumar, a doctor in England. The man, after gaining her trust, expressed his desire to marry her and settle down in Chennai. “He said he was sending me US $ 250,000 through an agent for buying a house,” she says.

Radhika and her family were cheated of Rs. 26 lakh which she deposited in 11 instalments till March 2011 in bank accounts given by Danish towards commissions and other charges after believing his promises. An African national, on the pretext of handing over the cash, also visited Radhika at her residence. Later, an unidentified person, suspected to be from the same gang, claimed to be Customs Department official and threatened Radhika on her trying to receive illegal transfers from UK.

In another instance, a woman complained of being cheated of a few lakhs after a prospective ‘fiancé' claimed his mother fell in the bathroom in U.K. just before coming to Chennai for the ‘betrothal'. The woman transferred the money to his account for medical expenses, said a senior officer with the Central Crime Branch.

Founder CEO of matrimonial website Bharat Matrimony Murugavel Janakiraman stated that his organisation is working towards a 100 percent verification procedure for members. “The culprits often say they are NRIs and target divorcees and women members in their 40s. We have been issuing warnings to all our members on not to indulge in money transfers with person they have met on the website but there is a serious lack of awareness among users,” Mr. Janakiraman added.

However, the portals can't do much as the conversations and subsequent money transfers happen outside the system, he added.

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Petlee PeterJune 28, 2012

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