Pratishtha (name changed), a 29-year-old woman working in an IT company, complained to police that she lost ₹15,000 after she fell prey to an online liquor delivery fraud in October.
On a Google search for home delivery of liquor, she found the website of a well-known wine shop in central Bengaluru. She dialled a number given on the website. The person, who took the call, identified himself as the manager of the outlet, and confirmed that they do home delivery of liquor.
She then ordered a bottle of wine costing ₹1,500. The ‘manager’ told her that he would send her a QR code which she should scan to pay the amount. After scanning the code, she lost ₹15,000, and never got a reply from that number again.
The Karnataka Excise Act does not permit online sale or home delivery of liquor.
Many such cases
Police said there have been similar cases like her’s reported, especially impersonating shops in the Central Business District. Cybercriminals are using Google search options and Search Engine Optimisation to make their fake websites pop up while people search for home delivery of liquor and then siphoning off money from them, said police officials. In the last five months, at least 10 such cases have been reported, while many cases are not reported to the police.
Police said fraudsters are using names of well-known outlets in the neighbourhood to fool people. Speaking to The Hindu, R. Srinivas Gowda, DCP (Central), Bengaluru, said, “The criminals are creating multiple websites of one prominent liquor store in the city to manipulate the Google search results, and phone numbers are added and when people call them they promise delivery of liquor, and then scam them during online payment.”
The Bengaluru city police had earlier conducted awareness drives on social media about phishing attacks in the garb of home delivery of liquor. The liquor shop whose name has been misused has also taken to social media asking its customers to be careful.