A marine engineer from Jadavpur who lost his father 11 years ago got a call on Monday looking for the elderly man to offer him a payback on deposit in his Employees’ Provident Fund EPF account — something he never had.
The engineer said his father passed away at 92 and never had a mobile phone. So he had to share his son’s number with a few utility service providers where it was mandatory to give a mobile phone number.
“It is apparent that my number was leaked from one of these agencies where my father had registered his name with my number,” said Abhijit Banerjee, a resident of Prince Anwar Shah Road in Jadavpur. Police said this could be a new way to dupe people — luring them with an EPF claim and asking them to pay a “small” sum to get a much bigger amount.
“The woman was speaking in Hindi. She asked if she was speaking with Santipada Banerjee. My father passed away in 2011. I asked her who she was and she said she was calling from the Employee’s Provident Fund office. She said a payment from my father’s EPF account was due and the amount could be claimed by him or me,” Banerjee said.
Banerjee realised that the woman had no clue that the person she was talking about had died more than a decade ago and that he never had an EPF account.
“I became suspicious and asked her to prove that she was an employee of the EPF. She immediately disconnected the call,” he said.
Banerjee is not alone in the city to get such calls.
Several cases have been reported to the police where the complainant has received calls asking them to claim the interest of an “old insurance policy” which they never invested in.
A senior officer at Lalbazar said the fraudsters often tried to give the impression that they were aware of the personal details of the person they were are calling by telling his or her name and address.
“They (fraudsters) try to win the confidence of the people by sharing their personal details. However, people should also be completely aware of their investments and all relevant details. They should be able to make out at once if someone is trying to lure them with the promise of interests on a policy they never had,” the officer said.
Employees’ Provident Fund claims, too, have now become a way to dupe people.
“The fraudsters are constantly changing their modus operandi. They make their first move by sending a text message saying the power supply would be disconnected if dues are not cleared immediately or by trying to lure people by making false claims about old dues which are actually non-existent,” said an officer in the cyber cell of Lalbazar.
“Spurious links are shared with the potential victims to claim old dues. If a person clicks on the link, his or her phone is compromised and could be accessed by the fraudsters,” the officer cautioned.
The fact that fraudsters get access to phone numbers even when they are shared with very few service providers or agencies has left the police worried.
The Telegraph reported last week about police’s warnings against random sharing of personal numbers with strangers even if they promise lucky-draw coupons or gifts.