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By Fiona Mehta

 

Director General of Police, Amaresh Pujari, who is in charge of the Tamil Nadu Police’s Cyber Crime Wing, issued a warning against downloading loan apps from unreliable websites to prevent falling victim to scammers. He also went into detail on victim hotlines and new trends in online fraud.

People who took out minor loans have experienced harassment and blackmail from those in charge of predatory loan apps.

Whenever such loan apps come to their notice, they take up the matter with the app provider to take it down. This year, they came across 273 loan apps on Google Play Store. After sustained follow-up by the Cyber Crime Wing, Google has taken down 211 apps. Efforts are being made to bring down the remaining 62 apps. The problem, however, is compounded by the fact that people download such loan apps from various websites too. He strongly urges people not to download any app from unverified websites as it can contaminate their mobile phones and lead to loss of money.

Many people have fallen victim to what has come to be called the ‘Boss Scam’. Fraudsters use photos of senior officers in Display Pictures (DPs) on WhatsApp to impersonate and send messages to people working in particular offices, requesting money or asking them to click a link for gift cards. He urges people not to respond to such messages unless it is from known numbers of their bosses or colleagues.

Another scam is ‘Sextortion’. In this scam, the victim receives a video call from an unknown number. Once the person accepts the call and starts talking, the scamster on the other end, typically a woman, starts stripping. Later, screen records of this video call are used to blackmail the victims. People should refrain from accepting video calls from unknown persons/numbers. Many people receive fraudulent messages to pay electricity bill dues or complete KYC verification for their bank account. People should not respond to such messages and verify it with the Electricity Board office or their bank managers.

 

What are the redressal mechanisms for people who fall for such scams?

One of the quickest redressal mechanisms for a common man who loses money to fraudsters is to dial their toll-free helpline number 1930. This number is handled by their trained staff in the Cyber Crime Wing Headquarters. The team will get the necessary details from the victim and initiate freezing of the fraudulent transaction so that money could be returned to the victim by the bank. The earlier the people report the incident to the helpline, the more the chances of them getting back their money.

Complaints can also be lodged on the portal: www.cybercrime.gov.in or through the mobile App ‘Kaval Uthavi’.

People can also approach the Cyber Cell at their nearest police station. Cyber Support Officer (CSO) at the police station will help them in lodging the complaint.