Upsurge in crimes involving mobile wallets in city

Fraudsters either obtain card details of victims or use spyware to siphon funds from bank accounts

Many businessmen, IT professionals and doctors in the city are falling prey to the fraudsters lurking in cyberspace, looking to cash in on the vulnerable, especially those with little knowledge of Unified Payment Interface (UPI) and mobile wallets.

In the last month alone, the Chennai City Central Crime Branch (CCB) has received more than 30 complaints of online fraud from various parts of the city, many of them related to UPI.

Vinaykumar, a businessman from Purasawalkam, is one such victim. Lured by offers, he downloaded a popular UPI app. He dialled a fake customer support number and when the fraudster asked for his debit card details, he shared them. The next day, Mr. Vinaykumar received messages stating that ₹2 lakh had been withdrawn from his bank account. He requested his bank to freeze the account. But the cash is yet to be retrieved, he added.

On condition of anonymity, a doctor who was duped, said, “I was sent a link by a caller identifying himself to be an executive in a UPI company. After I shared the card details he asked for, the fraudster stole money from my bank account.”

The doctor claimed he could not immediately block the account. Mahesh Kumar, an IT professional, was also cheated after he shared his debit card details. A senior CCB official said more frauds are being committed through UPI, which enables easy real-time money transfer between bank accounts.

According to officials, a UPI fraud can happen due to two factors — the user shares information with someone or the fraudsters use some bug or trap in the app used for transactions. The CCB officials have also come across victims falling prey to spyware that gets installed in their smart phones.

Investigation hurdles

M. Meenapriya, Inspector of Police, CCB, said, “In most cases, the fraudster transfers the money using a UPI application from the bank account or mobile wallet within minutes. The money is transferred to several mobile wallet accounts and then transferred into bank accounts or used for online purchases.”

“It usually takes one week to 10 days for us to collect the beneficiary details. Then we have to write to the banks and mobile wallet companies. In case of an online purchase, we have to write to the merchant. By this time, the fraudsters vanish,” another officer said.

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Printable version | Jun 4, 2020 6:15:43 PM |

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