A new cyber fraud trend has been uncovered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, where a woman was duped of over Rs 11 lakh and held under “digital arrest” for a day. The Uttar Pradesh Police has launched an investigation into the case, which is the first of its kind in the region. The fraudsters posed as police officials and implicated the victim, a 50-year-old woman, in a fictitious money-laundering case by mentioning the names of an IPS officer in the CBI and the founder of a grounded airline.
This new trend of “digital arrest fraud” is becoming more prevalent, as a similar case was recently reported in Haryana’s Faridabad. In that case, cyber thugs posed as police personnel and convinced a woman that her personal IDs were used for illegal activities. They then digitally arrested her for more than a week, instructing her to stay online via Skype and not share any information with anyone.
In the Noida case, the woman received an IVR call on November 13, informing her that a mobile phone SIM card was purchased using her Aadhaar card in Mumbai and was used for illegal advertising and harassment of women. The call was then transferred to a person claiming to be a Mumbai Police officer who conducted an interrogation over the call and on Skype video call. The fake officer informed the victim that she was also being accused of money laundering related to the founder of an airline, providing her with documents on Skype.
After the initial interrogation, the fake officer transferred the case to an IPS officer posted with the CBI in Mumbai for further investigation. The victim was instructed to request the CBI officer to prioritize her case and remove her arrest warrant. The woman was also told not to disclose any information as it was related to “national security.”
To prove her innocence, the victim was asked to keep a sufficient balance in her accounts. The fake officer even advised her to apply for a personal instant loan of Rs 20 lakh from ICICI, which she initially denied. However, due to pressure, she applied for a loan of Rs 3 lakh, which was transferred to a PFC account.
During the investigation, the fake CBI officer claimed to have found 246 debit cards, one of which had the victim’s name on it. The card was allegedly used to open a bank account with the victim’s Aadhaar card.
The woman eventually reported the matter to the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Cyber Crime officials, alleging a fraud of Rs 11.11 lakh and her “digital arrest” from morning to night. An FIR has been lodged under relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code, and an investigation is currently underway.
Inspector Reeta Yadav, in-charge of the Cyber Crime police station in Noida Sector 36, urged people to be cautious of emerging online crimes and to report any suspicious activities to the police. She emphasized that the police never question anyone digitally and advised individuals to ask for proper notice and details if someone threatens them digitally.