The arrest of three Nigerian nationals from the city has blown the lid off a corporate-style cyber racket flourishing in the African country in which Indians are being targeted at an alarming rate, police said.
Special Cell officers said the arrested fraudsters used to pose as officials of different embassies and high commissions and cheat people by offering them bogus lottery.
The accused— Saheed Alli Olayiwala, Adewale Adeniyi Isiak and Ismail Ayodele Keyode — would allegedly contact people on mobile phones or through email and say they had won a big lottery.
Once people fell for the bait, they would extract lakhs of rupees from them as processing fees and then suddenly stop all contact. “Those who saw through their fraud and avoided them were threatened and harassed,” said Alok Kumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police (Special Cell).
The three were arrested last week. Police said they recovered a database of hundreds of phone numbers and email ids, laptops, mobile phones and fake passports from them.
“They used to convince victims by showing them their fake passports of foreign countries and bogus identity cards of some prominent private companies,” said Kumar. This is just a part of the racket. An officer said the fraud works at different levels. The three men arrested last week are henchmen— the actual fraud is orchestrated from Nigeria.
The core group comprises people who conceptualise innovative ways to dupe people. The most common way, for instance, is by offering people bogus lottery offers. “Another way is to pose as credit offices of foreign multi-national banks and call up people saying a millionaire had passed away. They then offered to transfer his assets to the victim in lieu of commission, if the victim agreed to pose as the deceased’s kin,” said an officer.
The second layer is made of people who collect a database of phone numbers and email ids. They use software to locate a number of email ids and also get phone numbers illegally. “The last step is to pass on all this information to their aides in other countries who execute plan.”