Conmen convinced the woman to pay all the money she had in her account, borrow from children and even sell her property.
In February, the retired schoolteacher residing in Mylapore received a call from a man claiming to be from Life Insurance Corporation, informing her that a matured insurance amount of Rs 19 lakh was lying unclaimed in her late husband’s name. He asked her to deposit a few thousand rupees into an account so that the insurance amount could be remitted in her account smoothly.
That was the beginning of the nightmare that cost her a whopping Rs 2.7 crore.
Thinking that her late husband, who retired as a senior government official, had forgotten to inform her about the policy, she transferred the amount that the caller sought. She received another call within two days, this time from a man claiming to be from the Delhi office of LIC. The caller was rude, accusing her of trying to cheat the company by paying only a pittance as premium. She was told she would have to pay Rs 1.5 lakh to get the Rs 19 lakh. She did as was asked.
But the calls did not stop there, and each time the caller promising a higher amount. It was a different caller each time, either threatening or smooth talking her. The last caller even claimed that the man he sent was on his way to her house with Rs 1 crore and asked her to transfer Rs 5 lakh as transportation charges.
From the time she received the first call to October 31, she transferred Rs 2.7 crore to 12 different accounts, to pay up which she not only emptied her bank accounts that had the couple’s retirement benefits saved but even sold properties. When this was not enough, she even took loan from her children.
Finally, after the demand went up to a point where she could not meet the amount they sought, she consulted her lawyer, who took the woman to the Chennai city crime branch (CCB) that began a probe. “All the calls she received were from different numbers in Delhi, which are no longer trackable,” a CCB official said.
Fraudsters use different ways to con their victims
Be careful when sharing details in matrimonial or dating sites. Avoid sharing photos and details publicly, and connect only to persons with verified the profile and have a premium/paid account. “When you call them, use a normal call so that you can verify the person’s name using Truecaller. Then, use the WhatsApp video call to verify his/her face. If there is any discrepancy, avoid the person,” advises J Prasanna, a cybersecurity expert.
One should also be very careful when sharing sensitive personnel information on social media. Ensure that your photos do not have geo-location (many of the latest mobile phones have disabled this feature in the camera by default). Avoid accepting friend requests from unknown people – even if it shows that the person is a friend of your friend. Cyber experts also warn against installing mobile apps from random platforms. “You should install the mobile applications only from the official market of the corresponding mobile. You should check the reputation of any app before installing, as some may have malware,” Prasanna adds.
What to do when you get phishing call