Scamsters are increasingly creating fake profiles of government officials, well known figures to target public: T.N. police

The cyber crime police say these profiles are used to target members of the public into parting with their money; 1,376 complaints about such scams have been registered in T.N. through the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal over the past six months

Published - February 06, 2024 03:57 pm IST - CHENNAI

Scamsters use WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms to target members of the public, the police said. Photograph used for representational purposes only

Scamsters use WhatsApp, Facebook and other social media platforms to target members of the public, the police said. Photograph used for representational purposes only | Photo Credit: Getty Images

Recently, the relative of a top police officer in Tamil Nadu received a WhatsApp call from the officer. It had been many days since the two had spoken, and so initially, the relative did not realise something was wrong -- the WhatsApp profile even had the correct photograph, making it seem genuine. After a few enquiries however, the caller asked the relative to transfer some money, which he said was for charity purposes, to a bank account. The account however, did not belong to the police officer. Suspicious, the relative called the officer, and only then did he realise that he had nearly fallen victim to a scam.

Scamsters have called relatives and friends of two T.N. District Collectors in similar cases. Even the Chief Electoral officer has not been spared.

The Cyber Crime Wing of the T.N. Police say cyber criminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated tactics to exploit unsuspecting individuals. This is one such alarming trend that has been on the rise: the creation of fake profiles impersonating senior government officials or celebrities to deceive and manipulate people into parting with their money.

These scams often commence with cyber criminals collecting information about the individuals through their social media accounts or other online spaces where individuals share personal information. Additional Director of Police, Cyber Crime Wing Sanjay Kumar said, “Using the information collected, they meticulously craft fake profiles on social media platforms such as Facebook, X and WhatsApp, mirroring the identities of trusted figures, such as senior officers, CEOs, or government officials. The perpetrators then exploit the credibility of these personas to establish trust with potential victims.”

Victims receive messages through social media platforms, urgently seeking financial aid for various reasons – emergency medical expenses, unexpected legal trouble or fabricated philanthropic initiatives. The conmen employ psychological tactics to heighten the sense of urgency, playing on the victim’s emotions and the trust they repose in the well known figures.

Police said in all, 1,376 complaints about fake profiles scams have been registered in Tamil Nadu through the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal over the past six months.

Mr. Kumar advises people to always cross-verify any unusual requests directly with the person involved and regularly update passwords and enable two-factor authentication. He also advises all users to review their privacy setting on social media platforms to minimise the risk of unauthorised access.

Members of the public can report any such scams by dialing the Cyber Crime toll-free Helpline 1930 or logging on to www.cybercrime.gov.in

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