Mumbai : With the boom in various e-payment services, cyber criminals seem to have invented a new modus operandi, as the case of Shriram Kulkarni (61) shows. The priest from Nashik lost Rs 60,000 from his State Bank of India (SBI) account to a conman posing as a representative of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI).

Kulkarni got a call on his mobile at 5.30 pm on June 3 from someone who identified himself as a RBI representative. The person told Kulkarni that since he hadn’t submitted his Aadhar card, the two ATM-cum-debit cards, which he possessed, would have to be re-issued. He claimed that this exercise of verifying the cards and reissuing them had been going on a daily-basis for a year now.

The caller read out the numbers of the two cards, their CVV (Card Verification Value) numbers, expiry dates and asked to verify if the details matched. They did. An unsuspecting Kulkarni then gave the caller the name of his bank and the numbers of his two accounts – one his wife Saral Kulkarni’s salary account, and the other a joint account of theirs – at the caller’s request. He was then told to wait for 30 minutes and not to call anyone in order to let the process of reissuing the cards be completed.

By 6.15 pm, Kulkarni got the first of the many text messages from the bank informing him of a transaction from his account. Each transaction was done through e-payment websites such as PayU and Paytm and was between Rs. 1000-Rs 3,500. Alarmed, Kulkarni called his son, Varadarajan Kulkarni, who resides in Mumbai at around 6.40 pm.

Varadarajan asked his father to immediately withdraw as much cash from the ATM as possible. By this time, the transactions had become worth almost Rs 40,000. Varadarajan then tried to block the cards, which happened only by 7.30 pm as he wasn’t the owner of the accounts.

By then, another Rs 20,000 had been transacted. “Had the cards not been blocked, they would have easily transacted one lakh,” said Varadarajan.

Varadarajan called on the number to try to find out who it was, and got an unexpected invitation to actually join the gang. “He told me that he and his gang have been doing this for three years now and that I can join them. They would share 50% of the proceeds with me. I was shocked and didn’t know how to reply,” said the 27-year-old graphic designer. Further attempts to contact the unidentified person failed.

Back in Nashik, Kulkarni approached the police to file an FIR. However, they only took his complaint and said that they would investigate the matter. On Wednesday, Varadarajan himself went to Nashik, acquired a record of the transactions from the bank and approached the police to file an FIR. Since the Police Sub-Inspector, M S Devikar – who had spoken to Kulkarni on Tuesday – was on leave and his juniors did not know the state of the investigation, Varadarajan was asked to come on the next day to file the FIR.

Varadarajan is perplexed as to how the conman acquired the exact details of  his parent’s cards even though the couple never took their cards out of the house. They had always remained in the locker, he said.

CVV (Card Verification Value)
A unique number on VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express credit and debit cards which lets an online merchant know that the buyer actually possesses the card.

E-payment websites
E-payment means electronic payment for buying and selling of goods on the Internet. It has many forms, one of which is paying bills online. Paytm and PayU are two such websites offering these services.

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