When 30-year-old Surabhi Kulkarni, a private firm employee from Nandini Layout, received a WhatsApp message offering an online part-time job to earn quick money, she replied immediately, thinking of making some extra income through moonlighting. She checked for details and was told to like and share some Instagram links to earn Rs. 70 per task.
Ms. Kulkarni then got onto the job and even earned quick returns. Little did she know that it was a trap as the caller made another proposition of earning a huge sum in no time through online trading investments of up to 40%.
Excited by this, she convinced her family and invested Rs. 21.03 lakh through three different bank accounts. Within minutes, she realised that she had been cheated as the money and the accused vanished. A shocked Ms. Kulkarni rushed to the North Division Cybercrime Police Station, where she realised that what happened to her wasn’t an isolated case.
She was among nine people who were cheated by online part-time job scams and lost lakhs of rupees in a span of two days.
According to the police, Shobha Surendra, 49, from Anandnagar lost Rs. 20 lakh, while Harish Kumar Hemanth Raju, 36, from Hegganahalli, lost Rs. 3.3 lakh. The others were Lakshmi Chandra Shekhar, 32, who lost Rs. 1.8 lakh, Ravi Mahabaleshwar, 34, who lost Rs. 1.04 lakh and Tara Bahadur Thapa, 47, from R.T. Nagar, who lost Rs. 1.06 lakh.
A common modus operandi
“There are many others who have lost money in thousands, and we have lost count,” a police officer working in the police station said. “On average, we receive three to four such cases every day. This is the latest method adopted by cyber fraudsters,” added the police.
Ravindra K. Gadadi, DCP, command centre, who is keeping a tab on the cybercrime cases in the city, reiterated that prevention is better than cure to escape from being cheated. The cybercrime police have launched awareness campaigns on social media, alerting people not to entertain random calls offering part-time jobs and investments offering high returns .
The cyber police also launched 112, a toll-free service to help victims report cyber fraud immediately so that the transactions can be reversed. According to Mr. Gagadi, the police have so far managed to recover a total sum of Rs. 9.3 crore in the financial year. However, going by the number of cases registered every day and the money lost estimated to be Rs. 50.9 crore in the last five months of this year, the recovery amount is not up to the mark.
The newly appointed Director General and Inspector General of Police, Alok Mohan, admitted that there are increasing incidents of cybercrime cases and investigations and recovery in this cases are not up to the mark.
Mr. Mohan said the existing cybercrime police stations across the State would be strengthened to tackle the menace, and even the police officers at the regular law and order police stations would be trained to investigate cybercrime rleated cases.
On average, we receive three to four such cases every day. This is the latest method adopted by cyber fraudsters