1930 helpline stands between online fraudsters and gullible customers: ₹306 cr. saved since 2021

Vijaita Singh, Aroon Deep
1930 helpline stands between online fraudsters and gullible customers: ₹306 cr. saved since 2021

High stakes: The helpline is integrated with the State police control rooms. The Hindu

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Monday, 3rd April 2023
Page No. 1
Chennai Print Edition

Ravinder Malhotra, 55, a Gurgaon-based government employee working in Delhi, got an SMS last November, saying he had an electricity bill of ₹12 due to be paid. His son Ayush, 22, told The Hindu that though he usually pays the power bills from Pune, Mr. Malhotra decided to pay the amount. On the landing page link in the SMS, there was a phone number for guidance.

“He called them and they asked him to download an app,” Mr. Ayush said. The SMS was from a scammer, and the app allowed them to remotely control Mr. Malhotra’s phone. As the ₹12 transaction kept supposedly failing, Mr. Malhotra received other one-time passwords from his bank, all of which the scammer was able to see. Within minutes, he had lost ₹3,28,000 from two bank accounts.

Even as the police in Delhi and Haryana disagreed on the jurisdiction, Mr. Ayush said the payment gateway used by the scammer froze a large part of the money that was siphoned off Mr. Malhotra’s account after he made a call to 1930. Mr. Malhotra was able to recover over half of what was stolen.

Mr. Malhotra is among 1.33 lakh people across the country who were able to get stolen money back after reporting the fraud on the toll-free helpline number 1930.

Integrated helpline

The helpline, launched in 2021 by the Union Home Ministry to help victims of financial fraud, is integrated with State police control rooms.

The extent of the financial fraud can be gauged from the fact that during 2021 when the helpline was launched, ₹51 crore was blocked by banks on the request of the police and agencies across the country, but the total amount saved since the launch has risen to ₹306 crore. In Assam, for example, over 10,000 complaints were received over the past 21 months, involving fraudulent transactions worth ₹41 crore. “In around 2,800 cases, we were able to freeze ₹7.1 crore of the money cheated from people, one of the highest recovery rates among other States,” Director-General of Police G.P. Singh told The Hindu.

If the affected person makes a call within the golden hour (that can range from immediately to 24 hours), the possibility of getting back the money increases. Home Minister Amit Shah said on March 28 that 250 financial institutions and wallets had been linked to 1930, helping recover the money faster.

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