A senior citizen couple based in Mulund lost Rs. 7.35 lakhs after cyber fraudsters, posing as officers from Mahavitaran, informed them about their pending electricity bill, threatening to cut off power supply if an immediate payment was not made.
How the fraud unravelled
Raghunath Karambelkar, 72, reported the cyber fraud to the Navghar police in Mulund on November 9. Karambelkar, now retired, had worked as a section officer in the Intelligence Bureau. According to him, he received a text message stating that their electricity would be disconnected by night due to non-payment in the previous month. The message included the contact number of an officer from Mahavitaran or the Maharashtra State Electricity Board (MSEB). Karambelkar contacted the number, informing them that the payment for the last month had already been made. However, the 'officer' insisted that it was not reflected in their database.
The 'officer' then sent a link to Karambelkar's WhatsApp number and instructed him to click on it. "I tried to click on the link, but it did not work on my mobile. I forwarded the link to my wife, Manisha’s number, and opened it. He (the officer) asked me to fill in my details like customer ID number and name and to make a payment of Rs. 5. I did. Immediately after, several messages popped up, stating that Fixed Deposits (FD) of Rs. 5 lakhs and 2 lakhs were closed, and a transaction of Rs. 34,000 was made from the savings account," said Karambelkar in his statement to the police.
Police initiated investigation
Although the victim filed a complaint on the Cyber Crime Online portal, the money had already been withdrawn from his account. According to Navghar police, the unknown link that victims like Karambelkar click on is malicious, containing viruses that can read and detect personal data on the mobile phone through auto-installed software. The police have initiated an investigation, registered an FIR, and are currently examining the accounts to which the money was transacted. Simultaneously, they are tracing the phone numbers used by the scammers. A case has been registered against unknown persons for cheating and cyber-fraud related offenses.