Matrimonial frauds on rise due to apathy of pre-verification: Police

Despite a number of frauds reported on matrimonial websites over the past so many years, surprisingly no case has been registered against these websites, said a senior Cyber official. Moreover, most of these websites not only violate the rules laid by the governments to regularize the registration process and ensure authenticity, they also turn a blind eye to matrimonial frauds and brush off the responsibility, claimed the official.

Even as a number of matrimonial portals have set up pre-matrimonial verification agencies, which ask for a user's passport and Aadhaar details to ensure authenticity, it hardly serves as a proof and has loopholes in the process. A recent survey revealed that eight out of ten cases were potential romance scams and the party that requested for investigating the backgrounds of individuals, were correct about their suspicions.

The popularity of many online matrimonial sites as well as other dating apps have opened newer avenues for fraudsters to scam vulnerable women and men, said an expert. The modus operandi of fraudsters committing matrimonial frauds is essentially identifying a vulnerable party and emotionally making way into their life, to eventually dupe them. The biggest factor that favours or helps such fraudsters is lack of information about their backgrounds, which helps them get away scot free. When the matrimonial websites are roped in for the probe, they simply claim that their platform is just the medium and they are in no way responsible for their user's actions, police said.

Romance scams are as dangerous as any other or even worse because not only is the victim financially exploited but is also left with a deep scar because of the emotional attachment, said a senior officer from cyber police. “Matrimonial fraud is estimated to grow faster than any other white-collared crime in the country. Unfortunately, not all victims come forward and report the crime,” said the officer.

Last month, a 39-year-old teacher lost Rs 9.5 lakh in an online matrimonial fraud, wherein she had met a man who introduced himself as Azad Ibrahim Hamza, a civil engineer based in the United Kingdom. After chatting for a few days, the woman received a call from a woman who said she was from the ‘Customs department’ and that there is a gift for her – a diamond ring and 70,000 pounds from Scotland air cargo. The caller said that she would have to pay customs duty and other taxes to receive the gift. Thinking it was a genuine call, she kept paying the money. When Hamza, however, began avoiding her calls, she realised that it was all a scam and approached police.

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