Two Kolkatans lost around Rs 7.7 lakh on Friday and Saturday after responding to text messages threatening to disconnect power supplies to their homes if they did not pay Rs 11.
Senior officers of Kolkata police said their headquarters at Lalbazar and the divisional cyber cells are receiving multiple complaints every day alleging they had been duped with fraudulent text messages that threatened that their home’s power supply would be disconnected in the next few hours if they did not clear their outstanding bill immediately through a link sent to them.
A resident of Regent Park in south Kolkata received a similar text message on Friday.
“He had dialled the phone number mentioned in the text message to seek assistance and was told to download a mobile application. The second mistake he committed was sharing a passcode he received on his phone. Without realising, he gave access to his phone to the fraudster,” said an officer of Regent Park police station.
Then, the fraudster asked the man to pay just Rs 11 to avoid disconnection of the power line to his home. “He used his credit card to make the payment online. The fraudster, who had access to his phone, saw the card details and used those to make a transaction of more than Rs 75,000,” said the officer.
Less than 24 hours later, a woman in Garfa received a similar text message.
The police said the woman panicked and called the phone number mentioned in the message. She, too, downloaded a screen-sharing app as told and shared her passcode with the person who was ‘assisting’ her over the phone.
The woman made a transaction of Rs 11 and within a few seconds received two text messages informing her that Rs 1,98,000 and Rs 4,95,000 had been withdrawn from her account, the police said.
The Telegraph has reported that neither CESC nor West Bengal State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (which supplies electricity in areas not served by CESC) sends text messages to consumers threatening disconnection of power supply.
Earlier last week, this newspaper had reported that two women — one in Kasba and the other in East Jadavpur — lost Rs 50,000 and Rs 5 lakh after responding to similar fraudulent text messages threatening disconnection of power supply to their homes.
What to do if you receive a “power-cut” text alert
• Report the phone number to the police
• Never dial the number mentioned in the message
• If you have dialled the number, do not download any app as told
• Even if you have download the app, never share any passcode generated on your phone