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Left poorer by Rs 5-lakh SIM card fraud, Gariahat lady dials cops

Scamsters exploit complicated banking rules, opines Kolkata academic

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 08.02.22, 09:15 AM
Representational image.

Representational image.

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A resident of Mandeville Gardens in south Kolkata received a call saying her SIM card was about to be blocked unless she updated her KYC through a link shared on her phone.

She did as told and was left poorer by Rs 5 lakh in the next 10 minutes.

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The woman immediately reported the matter to police and cops helped her recover Rs 4.9 lakh of the stolen money.

There are thousands of others who fall prey to fraudsters who either take advantage of the frequently changing banking rules and the complicated banking system or trigger panic by convincing victims that their bank accounts or e-wallets are going to be blocked.

A large number of people who approach the police after being duped are senior citizens, who find it difficult to tell a fraudulent call from a genuine one, especially when they are told that their ATM cards will be blocked or that their e-wallets will be non-functional soon, an officer said.

“It is a vicious circle. The more the accounts get hacked, the more the regulators and banks ask for stricter security walls, which make the system even more complicated. For the elderly, who are not very tech-savvy, even visiting the bank during the pandemic  is not a favourable option. That is when they start taking help from others, irrespective of how dependable those persons are,” said Anup Sinha, who taught at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.

The new complicated systems, which are meant to upgrade  security, often leave the elderly confused.

“The only way out is more education and awareness and clearer communication from the banks. The elderly should not visit a standalone ATM kiosk. They should preferably go to an ATM attached to a branch and seek help only from an official of that branch if he or she faces a problem in withdrawing money,” Sinha said.

A senior police officer said they were laying emphasis on the recovery of cheated money.

“The first step is to immediately block the ATM or credit card whose details have been unknowingly shared with fraudsters. The next step is to report the matter to the local police station. The quicker you go to the police, the higher the chances of recovery,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

Earlier, along with filing a police complaint, a fraud victim had to lodge a complaint with his or her bank branch. Now, lodging a complaint with the police was enough to start a case.

In Kolkata, all cases of bank frauds through tele-calling were dealt with by the anti-bank fraud section of the detective department. Now, dedicated cyber cells have been opened in each of the nine divisions to investigate such complaints at police stations.

Last updated on 08.02.22, 01:56 PM
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