A grave mistake people often make while speaking to a telecaller who claims to be a bank official or representative of a telecom service provider is to engage in long conversations, said police officers dealing with multiple cases of online fraud.
“It is noticed that people who speak more to strangers over the phone are more likely to pass on their personal details than those who do not entertain calls from unknown people,” said an officer in Lalbazar.
The police have come across several such cases where the fraudsters have won the confidence of elderly people and convinced them to download an application and make online transactions as told by them. Such transactions leave victims poorer by lakhs of rupees.
The Telegraph reported on Monday how a retired person who spoke for around four hours over the phone — first from his phone and then from his wife’s so he could simultaneously carry out online transactions on his — lost more than Rs 12 lakh from two of his accounts.
He was asked to make a transaction of Rs 10.06 only from the two accounts. He did so and unwittingly gave the fraudsters access to both his accounts.
“Another mistake people make is it to download mobile phone applications from either the playstore (on Android phones) or the app store (iPhone) on being told by telecallers. Most, if not all, applications fraudsters use are legitimate screen-sharing apps needed during online meetings. But the fraudsters misuse them to swindle money out of their victims,” said an officer who has investigated many bank fraud cases.
A large section of elderly Kolkatans who live alone and have become dependent on online banking for paying their utility bills and taxes often fear they would not have any other means to pay their bills and taxes if their SIM card is blocked.
The dependence on mobile phones increased many times in the past two years because people, especially elderly ones, mostly stayed indoors to avoid catching Covid.
Fraudsters also try to lure people by inducing them to claim free gifts or lottery money against tickets they have never purchased. Sometimes, they send text messages to their targets posing as LPG operators asking people to book cylinders by clicking on a particular link.
“Fraudsters are coming up with different types of modus operandi to cheat people. Initially, they would tell their victims that their SIM or ATM card would be blocked unless they clicked on a link or shared their banking details. Clicking on the link sent to their phones would eventually give fraudsters access to their accounts,” said an officer of the state CID that receives complaints of bank fraud from across the state.
“These days they are also sending messages with phone numbers asking people to call on those to claim their prize money. Once someone calls such a number, the fraudsters convince the people to share their banking details where the prize money could be deposited.”
Instead of getting any “prize money,” the banking details are used to fraudulently withdraw money.