Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers online, dupe buyers

Representational image.

Representational image.   | Photo Credit: Satheesh Vellinezhi

With no direct interaction with victims, they operate from far-off places like Delhi

A businessman in Mandaveli was tempted by an advertisement for the sale of a used car on an online portal. According to the ad, the car was on sale for ₹1.8 lakh, way lower than its market price. The seller, claiming to be an army personnel, had posted that he was selling the car since he was moving to Delhi.

As soon as the buyer evinced interest to buy the car, the seller sent a picture of the car, without its registration number, RC book or insurance records, through WhatsApp. He asked the buyer to pay an advance through mobile wallet or link-based payments. The seller promptly sent a gate pass for the vehicle from an army camp, so that the buyer could drive it away. Convinced, the businessman transferred the entire amount and the seller vanished. His mobile phone was switched off.

Fraudsters pose as genuine sellers online, dupe buyers

Likewise, another victim from Porur was keen on buying a high-end bike and checked online. A seller, who claimed to be from the Central security services, had advertised a picture of a his bike for sale, quoting ₹50,000 on an online portal. The market price for the bike was over ₹ 1.5 lakh. As he was attracted by the offer and showed interest, the fraudster sent him vehicle details over WhatsApp, and asked him to send an advance through mobile wallet. The seller sent a fake receipt of a courier company, indicating that the product had been shipped. After collecting all the money from the buyer, he switched off his mobile phone and vanished.

These are not isolated cases. In the last two months, the Cyber Crime Unit of the Central Crime Branch has received more than 60 complaints of such frauds.

A senior police officer said, “We are receiving too many complaints from victims who lost their money to fraudsters who posed as genuine sellers on sites such as OLX, Quikr and others, by listing goods at very cheap prices.”

Similar pattern

Fraudsters usually pose as armed forces personnel or personnel from central security forces and post fake or stolen identity cards and documents relating to cars/ two-wheelers.

They share fake Aadhaar and other identification details and ask buyers to pay the initial advance, and then the entire amount.

Another senior officer said, “All communication is through WhatsApp or other messaging platforms. There is no face-to-face interaction between the buyer and the seller. Overenthusiastic buyers are not ready to verify the credentials of the sellers and get cheated quickly.”

Sometimes, sellers who post their products for sale too are cheated by fraudsters. On seeing an ad posted by a genuine seller, the fraudsters come forward to pay the quoted price. Then they get the sellers to share the OTP for money transfer under the pretext of mobile wallet transfer and swindle the entire money, the police said.

In most cases, the fraudsters operate from far-off places such as Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan. “It is tough to crack these cases and trace the money trail, since all transactions are done through mobile wallets or the UPI mode. Online sale portal representatives also said that transactions were done outside the portal and so they had no control,” the police said.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:15:44 PM |

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