If you get a text message from your mobile phone service provider about the status of a request you had never asked for, get in touch with your service provider immediately.
Cyber criminals robbed Kandivli resident Chinmay Dash, 36, of Rs. 1.75 lakh by transferring the money out of his bank account and deactivating his SIM card so that he did not get SMS alerts about the money transfers.
“On November 25, I called a relative around 11pm, after which I went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, I saw that my mobile phone had no network. To check if something was wrong with my phone, I put the SIM in another phone, but there was no network.”
That’s when Dash thought to look at his SMS inbox. “I saw that I had received SMS in the early hours of the morning from my network service provider, Airtel, that my request for a change of SIM card had been completed. I was shocked as I had not made such a request,” he said.
Dash, a corporate executive, called up the Airtel customer care and was informed by a customer care executive that around 8.30pm on November 25 they had got a request for a new SIM card. “I was a privilege customer so I had the facility of making such requests over the phone instead of going to a centre,” he said.
Suspecting that something was amiss, especially as he used his mobile number for phone banking, Dash called up the bank. To his horror, he found that Rs. 1.75 lakh had been transferred from his account through online transfers. “The bank told me that 11 transactions had been made from my bank account to accounts in Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh, none of which were made by me. I realised that I had been duped.”
The cyber criminals had first hacked the password of his account. They had then called up his service provider and requested for a new SIM card late in the evening.
As the deactivation process takes a few hours, they wanted to ensure that the deactivation message was received late in the night, when Dash was asleep.
Dash approached the cyber cell at Bandra-Kurla Complex police station, which, after a week, has directed him to approach his local police station. The Samta Nagar police have now registered a case of cheating and online fraud against unidentified accused. N Kamble, senior inspector of Samta Nagar police station, said: “We are investigating the matter and have made some progress.” He, however, refused to share the details, saying that it would hamper the investigation.
Dash said: “It’s not a question of only losing money. If my number had been used for some terror activity instead, it would have landed me in greater trouble.”
An Airtel spokesperson said: “In this case, the complete process of SIM transfer has been followed. Airtel has always maintained the highest standards of corporate governance and regulatory compliance. Stringent security measures ensure data security of each customer.”