Picture this: you get random missed calls from an unknown number in the dead of night. The caller bugs you continuously till you get irritated, call back and make a few queries in a sleepy condition only to find that it was a wrong number.
But that was only the half-truth. The real truth dawns on you when you find that you have ended up paying a huge amount for those few minutes, or seconds, of conversation as the call rates were much higher than normal charges.
All this, for your information, is a new age way of conning people.The missed racket, as cops would call it, is getting bigger by the day. Though there are no official statistics, police say lakhs of mobiles users get missed calls from numbers starting with +0092 and +232. And many tend to call back, making the crooks richer in the process.
Sharad Kumar, a resident of Ashok Nagar, was one such victim. He got missed calls from a Pakistani number on which he called back and lost around 100 bucks for a few seconds. "I got a balance alert soon after finishing the call. After I disconnected, at least Rs 100 were deducted from my account. Since it was not significant, I avoided filing a complaint," said Kumar.
“The calls come from Pakistan from various numbers beginning with +0092. The members make random several missed calls,” another senior police officer said requesting anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media .
"When someone call back on these numbers, the call rates are much higher than normal charges. The gang gets its share of the money through call rates," the officer added.
The police said they had received a few complaints. But many people do not approach the police as they realise about the deduction much later.
Then there is the lottery racket, similar to the one that operates online. The only difference here is that you get a call, instead of an email, informing you about a lottery that you may have won.
"The callers try to lure mobile users by saying they have won a lottery worth millions. This is the same modus operandi Nigerians gangs had adopted to cheat people by sending e-mails," he added.
To claim the amount, the caller asks the victim to deposit a certain registration amount ranging from R10,000 to R25,000. Assuming the call to be genuine, the victim deposits the cash and is conned. The money is then sent through hawala channels to Pakistan.
“You don't win lottery randomly and one should understand this. There is a need to create awareness about this new fraud,” the officer said.
Initial investigations have revealed that there are two gangs behind these rackets and both operate from Pakistan.
The police said that they had contacted a few victims on their own to understand the modus operandi of this gang. "The calls always come during odd hours. When we checked one such number, it was from Africa," he added.
"Once we manage to get hold of members of the gang, it will be clear how they actually manage to earn from the calls made by the victims," said the senior police official.
The crime branch of the Delhi Police are now on the lookout for a Pakistani, currently believed to be based in Punjab, who is running the racket along with his Indian gang members.
"We have got some clues. A Noida tea shop owner, a sales executive from Old Delhi and a Wazirabad resident along with a businessman in Punjab are in our radar," he said.
Mobile phone records of the suspected Indian gang members running the racket have revealed that they are in continuous touch with the kingpin of the gang based in Pakistan.
While intercepting one of the mobile numbers from Pakistan involved in the racket, the crime branch found out that several persons from Delhi and NCR are actively coordinating with the kingpin in Pakistan.