Fraud in the name of Collectors

A woman officer in the rank of PA to Collector in Sivaganga on June 26 received a WhatsApp message from a mobile number with a display picture (DP) of the Collector requesting her to purchase Amazon gift cards, and promising to return the amount quickly.

Without any suspicion, she opened a link which was sent over WhatsApp and also provided bank details as dictated by the stranger who sent the message. At first, ₹10,000 was debited from her account. She received 30 similar messages and went on clicking and filling up the details.

She had altogether ₹3 lakh debited from her account and at last, she realised she was duped by an unknown fraudster and that the number did not belong to the Collector. She then lodged a complaint with the Superintendent of Police.

Similarly, at least 10 officers in the rank of Divisional Revenue officer (DRO) and Tahsildar received phishing messages in two months from unknown numbers with the DP of the respective Collectors in 10 districts such as Coimbatore, Vellore, Ariyalur, Erode and Tiruvallur.

However, the officers were alert and reported it to the respective Cyber Crime police stations.

Amaraesh Pujari, Director-General of Police, Cyber Crime, told The Hindu, “Cyber offenders easily picked up photos of the District Collectors and other officers since they are public figures and their pictures are openly available in the public domain. Using those pictures as DPs, the fraudsters targeted the officers below the Collectors through WhatsApp chats. We have received at least 10 complaints across the State and written to WhatsApp as well to block 19 numbers. Investigation is on to trace the offenders who sent those messages.”

Meanwhile, a source said the Principal Secretary, Revenue, Kumar Jayanth also had issued instructions to revenue officers in this regard and advised them not to act on any call or message unless it was from official numbers of the Collectors.

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Printable version | Jul 6, 2022 12:55:07 am |