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US woman loses Rs 68,000 in bid to book Bhowanipore hotel online

Bank fraud section of Kolkata police traced the money, which had by then been transferred through four accounts

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 24.04.23, 06:48 AM
Representational image

Representational image

File picture

A woman originally from Kolkata and now settled in the US was allegedly duped out of Rs 68,000 when she tried to book a room in a Bhowanipore hotel in south Kolkata in February.

Officers of the bank fraud section of the city police traced the money, which had by then been transferred through four accounts. It was retrieved from the fourth.


“The account from which the money was recovered was operated by a woman who had come from Bihar and was staying in an apartment in New Town that she had taken on rent two months before,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

“But the woman left the New Town housing complex by the time she had beenidentified and the account traced.”

The entire amount that was duped out of the complainant was returned to her last week, but no one has yet been arrested.

The complainant, who wanted to book a hotel room, had found a phone number on a website that apparently resembled the website of the hotel, the police said.

“The complainant called the number and the person who answered sent her a link over the phone and asked her to download an app. Without doubting the person’s intention, the woman initially transferred a small amount. She was told that there were connectivity issues and that it was taking some time to process the request,” said an officer at Lalbazar.

After some time, the woman realised that Rs 68,000 had been debited from her bank account.

The matter was reported to the bank fraud section of the detective department.

“During the investigation, it was found that the money was first transferred to a virtual account that had been opened using a SIM card which was registered in the name of a 70-year-old woman in Alipurduar. The elderly woman’s KYC documents had possibly been misused to get a SIM card issued in her name. On further investigation, we found that the money had been transferred through three more accounts,” said the officer.

The police said they also found that Rs 1,000 from the amount that had been debited from the complainant’s account was transferred to a charitable trust in Hyderabad as “Donation”.

The last account, where the money was found, is in a branch in Salt Lake Sector-III. The police learned from the bank the address of the woman who was operating the account.

On reaching the address mentioned in the bank records, an apartment at Shapoorj Pallonji Shukhobrishti, the police learned that the woman, originally from Bihar, had left the complex.

“We were told that the woman would come to the housing complex periodically and rent apartments for a few months and then leave,” an officer said.

“Had the money been withdrawn using the ATM card, it would have been extremely difficult to recover it,” the officer said.

Last updated on 24.04.23, 06:48 AM

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