Prospective homebuyers duped by new cyber crime

The cyber police have come across a new type of con wherein the fraudsters tie up with small-time crooks, working as real estate agents, aiding and abetting cheating of prospective home buyers or sellers. The main accused in such cases usually poses as a government official, who approaches a homebuyer through the agent and then pretends to eliminate the agent's cost only to siphon off money in the name of deposits. Police have cautioned the public not to fall prey to such cons.

According to police sources, the new fraud came into light after a Andheri-based senior citizen was cheated to the tune of over ₹10 lakh, following which police alerted their counterparts. A senior cyber official said that in this fraud, the accused approaches a real estate agent, asking them to look for customers with property and who are willing to deal over a video call or virtually. The estate agents are then promised a cut for introducing two parties.

In one such case, a scamster had impersonated an army officer, who got in touch with the elderly through a video conferencing call to get his flat on rent in Sakinaka area. The accused spoke to the senior and later contacted the latter, on the pretext of brokering a deal without the agent's involvement. The accused, who claimed to be a military officer, said that the senior could directly transfer the deposit and one month's rent.

To accelerate the process, the fraudster sent a link, which when clicked, gave access to the senior's phone, following which a number of transactions were made fraudulently, amounting to ₹10 lakh. After realizing that he has been duped, the senior immediately approached the estate agent, who claimed that he did not know anything about this and washed off his hands from the responsibility.

Cautioning the public of this con, police said that one should never broker any deals just on the basis of a video/audio call and always double check the background of the person you are dealing with, to keep away from such cons and fraudsters.

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