A woman banker was defrauded Rs 45,000 by an online fraudster under the pretext of renting a bungalow in Lonavala. Upon reaching the location, she realised that there was no such booking for the bungalow on rent. The case was registered at Vakola police station against Akashkumar Wadhwani for alleged cheating on September 1.
According to the FIR, Manu Bhatanagar (38) who works at Commercial Bank of China at BKC, wanted to celebrate her grandmother's birthday with the family in Lonavala. For this, she searched on Instagram for a bungalow to rent. She came across an advertisement for Stay Vista Arihanta Bungalow that was available for rent. Expressing her interest in the property, she messaged the Instagram account that advertised the bungalow saying she wanted to book it for 16 people from August 26 to August 28. The fraudster shared a WhatsApp number for further communication.
Subsequently, the fraudster provided details about the bungalow and quoted a rent of Rs 90,000 for two days. He requested that half of the amount be sent online and shared bank details for Punjab National Bank and Marvelous Property Services as the account holder name. She did not transfer half the amount immediately. Later, she received a WhatsApp call from the same number, urging her to complete the payment to secure the booking. On August 14, at 9.53 pm, she transferred Rs 1,000 from her ICICI Bank account via the mobile app. The following day, transferred Rs. 44,000. Later, she received an email confirming the amount received and the bungalow booking under her name from the ID firstname.lastname@example.org.
On August 24, the fraudster provided a contact number of the bungalow's caretaker. The next day, she received a message stating that her booking had been cancelled due to technical reasons, with a promise to refund her amount along with airfare tickets. The fraudster also sent a fake Aadhar card. When she inquired about her money, the accused avoided the issue.
Bhatanagar eventually booked another bungalow for her family's celebration and decided to visit Marvelous Bungalow and reclaim her money. Upon reaching there, the bungalow's manager informed her that they did not have any Instagram account and no connection with the fraudsters. She decided to register a case and she found that the Punjab National Bank account holder's name was Akashkumar Jadhavani, the recipient of her transferred money.
Bhatnagar said, "I am a banker, but did not doubt it because when added a beneficiary online, the bank's system should have realised the account account number mismatch. Ideally, the bank should have returned my money due to the neighbour beneficiary mismatch. The fraudster provided me with his savings account number and the name of a current account. When I added the beneficiary, the bank should have rejected the transaction within 48 or 24 hours. The bank did have a cooling-off period, but when I transferred the money, it was transferred immediately. I did not receive any support from the second bank. The bank just froze the amount but did not return it to me."
The police registered a case under sections 420 (cheating and dishonestly) of the IPC Act and under sections 66 (c), and 66 (d) of the Information Technology Act.