In the last three weeks, the cyber crime department from Pune has come across at least 8 complaints associated with online frauds involving huge amounts. The complaints are from parents of students from places such as Delhi and Uttar Pradesh who are moving to Pune for education.
They received several online offers to get paying guest (PG) facilities for their wards, who have secured an admission in colleges from Pune city, as per reports. In one such incident, a parent who works with a cellular company in Gurugram said, "My son recently got admission to an engineering college in Shivajinagar. The college authorities told me their hostels were full. Last week, I started looking for private PG facilities online. I came across a few in the area. I contacted one and a man who answered informed me that he runs such a PG on FC Road. He sent me some photos and asked me to make a quick booking. He asked for Rs. 10,000 rent, Rs 4,000 for an ID card and other amenities. He also said a mess service will be charged separately."
Following that, the parent added, "I immediately sent him Rs 14,000 and we reached Pune. He sent us the location of the facility but when we reached the spot it turned out to be a residential building. When we contacted the man, he started abusing us. We realized that we have been cheated."
What did officials say?
Meenal Patil, senior cyber police inspector, said, "The modus operandi of the cybercrooks involves posting bogus advertisements on websites and social media platforms, offering help to secure PG facilities for students. These are open pages and anyone can post their ads on them.
When parents call the numbers mentioned, the person promises a good location close to the institution where admission has been secured, food and other facilities. The parents are then asked to pay Rs 10,000 as booking charges and Rs 4,000 for ID cards, room keys, etc. Sometimes, they are even charged in advance for the mess facility and the total amount goes up to Rs. 20,000. In many cases, on receiving the money transfer, the crooks stop contacting the parents."
A government officer from Jalgaon, whose son also got admission into a college from Shivajinagar, said, "The college authorities provided no hostel space to my son so we looked online for PG facilities. We transferred Rs16,000 to a person claiming to run such a facility via UPI. But, when we reached the location, it turned out to be the Pune cyber police station premises. We reported the fraud there itself to the police."
The cyber police said the phone numbers have been traced to Haryana, Gurugram, Noida and Rajasthan.