FPJ Cyber Secure: Mumbai Police Nab 2 For Duping PhonePe Users By 'Pretexting' For 4 Years

FPJ Cyber Secure: Mumbai Police Nab 2 For Duping PhonePe Users By 'Pretexting' For 4 Years

As per sources, the two men used ‘cyber hypnotism’ and manipulated people to act in a way that compromised their cyber security, giving access to sensitive information.

Aishwarya IyerUpdated: Tuesday, January 30, 2024, 12:25 AM IST
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FPJ Cyber Secure: Mumbai Police Nab 2 For Duping PhonePe Users For 4 Years | FPJ

The Mumbai police have arrested two men from Jharkhand for allegedly cheating people by posing as officials from UPI aggregator PhonePe. As per sources, the two men used ‘cyber hypnotism’ and manipulated people to act in a way that compromised their cyber security, giving access to sensitive information. 

Cyber-hypnotism or pretexting

Cyber-hypnotism is also called ‘pretexting’ where a fraudster creates a false pretext to gain trust to extract information. In some cases, the ‘baiting’ method is used, where people are enticed with a reward or incentive (as cashback). 

Zainul Ansari, 27, and Bharat Mandal, 29, both residents of Jamtara, have been living in Mumbai for the past four years. An incarcerated friend is said to have taught them how to dupe people. Ansari and Mandal met four years ago at a movie theatre in Jamtara, where they struck a friendship and decided to move to Mumbai. 

Most recent case

In a most recent case registered on January 20, a person lost Rs4,000 in a fraud. The money transferred from the complainant’s UPI was tracked using the governmet cyber safe portal and the mobile number used was procured. Based on the call data record and location inputs, Ansari was arrested from Wadala TT, while Mandal was held from Sion railway station. 

The Antop Hill police said that the two used the older version of PhonePe app which had a feature named ‘stores’, that helps finding stores that accept payments through PhonePe. Ansari and Mandal selected a location and looked for stores, approaching one from each locality. 

“They approached people posing as officials of PhonePe, and started with assisting them with new features in the app, or setting up the QR code. They manipulated people with conversation, making people blindly follow their instructions. If one of them noticed that a person is doubtful, they purportedly transferred the call to a higher  official, which is basically the other accused,” explained PSI Rahul Wagh, officer at the cyber cell of Antop Hill police station. 

The police said Ansari and Mandal stuck to smaller amounts between Rs2,000 and Rs5,000, which is why people didn’t approach the police to lodge a complaint. This is why they didn’t have any criminal record, the police said, adding that their victims are mostly from Haryana, West Bengal and Gujarat. 

Ansari and Mandal were in police custody for seven days while the police interrogated them. Each had eight to nine mobile phones and they kept changing SIM cards. The duo has now been remanded to judicial custody.

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