Cyber frauds: Nurse’s FB friend dupes her of Rs 17.53 lakh for ‘surprise gift’

Mumbai : A 49-year-old nurse was duped to the tune of ₹17.53 lakh after her Facebook friend, a 'London-based doctor', sent her a gift and asked her to pay the Customs duty, courier charges, GST and security taxes among others.

Having realised that her social media friend was taking her for a ride, luring her with a ₹49 lakh gift, she stopped making payments and approached Malad Police on Thursday, where the imposter was booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act.

The nurse, a resident of Malad (W), lives with her husband, an employee of the municipal corporation and is an avid user of social media. In March, the nurse received a friend requests of a UK-based doctor, which she accepted thinking that the doctor could share a few insights into the medical field and developments of Coronavirus vaccine. The very next day, the 'doctor', Alex Wildred, sent his number on one of the comments on her post and they began chatting around mid-August.

On August 17, Wilfred told the nurse that he is sending a surprise gift for her to applaud her work amid the Coronavirus pandemic. The nurse obliged and waited, only to receive a call from him stating that the gift with cash and jewellery worth ₹35 lakh and ₹14 lakh respectively, was caught by the custom officials and duty was to be paid.

"Wilfred told me that a customs official, Anjali Sharma would call me and share details of the payments, and I was asked to pay a number of charges for courier, penalty, anti-money laundering certificate, GST, security, layover and taxes worth over ₹17.53 lakh in a series of transactions to different account numbers between August 18 and 31. When I got fed up, I told Wilfred that I don't want the gift and asked him to return me the money," said the woman in her complaint.

Wilfred then assured her that he was coming to India to settle the matter and even sent a picture of him boarding the flight. After reaching Indira Gandhi International Airport, Delhi, Wilfred apparently told the nurse that he was caught by the customs officials for carrying extra cash and he asked for ₹5.40 lakh to release himself. The nurse then grew suspicious and asked him to make a video call, to confirm if he was telling the truth. Despite many attempts when Wilfred insisted on sending the money first, the nurse realised she was duped and approached Malad Police.

A senior police official said that they are investigating the matter and are yet to make any arrests.

Meanwhile, they have approached the bank to freeze the transactions and reverse the money as much as possible.

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