Wrong no. for wine shop causes Jogeshwari man to lose Rs 1.53 lakh
cottonbro (pexels.com)

Mumbai: In yet another instance of cheating by replacing the phone numbers in wine shop listings on internet search engines, a Jogeshwari resident was duped of Rs 1.53 lakh. Repeated reminders by police and bank officials to refrain from sharing bank account details go unheeded by people, resulting in their falling prey to cybercrime fraud. Amboli Police have arrested a 20-year-old Rajasthani man from Gurugram, for duping the complainant who had ordered liquor by calling the number listed for a wine shop online. Police suspect the arrested accused is part of a bigger syndicate, which has been using this modus operandi to cheat tipplers.

A 32-year-old professional, who did not wish to be named, had ordered alcohol by phone in October. He had found the number for a local wine shop, Novelty Wine Shop, online and had requested home delivery of beer worth Rs 450, police said.

He was asked by the person on the other end of the line to share his debit card details and give the one-time-password (OTP) for payment. The man did so, after which he found to his horror, Rs 1.53 lakh were deducted from the complainant's account through net-banking. He promptly approached Amboli Police and lodged a complaint.

Police booked the unidentified accused under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code and Information Technology Act for cheating. Accordingly, teams from Amboli police station, under the guidance of Senior Inspector Deepak Kajave, immediately swung into action and tracked the phone number that had been listed as that of the wine shop.

A team led by Police Sub-Inspector Vaibhav Gurav traced the number to Bharatpur in Rajasthan, based on the IMEI number. "During investigation, it was learnt that the accused had already been arrested by Gurugram Police in a similar case earlier. Acting on this information, a team left for Gurugram on December 2 and the accused was brought from transit remand three days later," said PSI Gurav.

Police said, the arrested youth was a student in Bharatpur, but mostly spent his time on the internet, hunting for possible targets. "We suspect he is not acting alone and has other accomplices. Another visit to Gurugram will ascertain the roles of the other accused, after which more arrests are likely," PSI Gurav added.

In the last four months, more than 25 similar cases have been reported, mostly from Khar, Bandra and Andheri, with victims being swindled of lakhs of rupees. Mumbai Police had written to Google, asking it to remove these falsely listed phone numbers for wine stores, especially in the western suburbs of Mumbai. Taking cognisance of their letter, police said that Google had struck off more than 10 such phone numbers.

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