Delhi: Man posing as ‘Cyber Cell’ officer dupes, blackmails Facebook users
Several Facebook users have been duped by a caller who poses as an officer from Delhi Police’s Cyber Cell. The caller takes control of people’s accounts and pages and then blackmails them for money.delhi Updated: Apr 19, 2017 21:17 IST
Posing as a cyber cell officer, an unidentified man has been taking the access of Facebook accounts of people, particularly from the glamour industry in Delhi and NCR, and blackmailing them to cough up money.
According to several victims, the man calls from a number and claims he is calling from the cyber cell of the Delhi Police. Since his Truecaller id reads ‘Cyber Cell’, most victims do not question his identity. The number is mentioned in the police report.
HT is not revealing the number because the matter is pending investigation.
He tells his victims that their Facebook account or ‘Page’ has been ‘reported’ by several Facebook users for certain problems and he would be sorting out the problem for which he needs the OTP generated by clicking on ‘Forgot Password’.
Once the victims share the OTPs, the man has little problem in accessing their Facebook accounts or pages. He then changes the primary email id and phone number associated with that account or page, taking complete control of it.
After that, he makes no attempt to conceal his real intentions. He again calls up the victims, informs them that they no longer have control over their Facebook accounts or page and demands a sum of Rs 2,100 to get the access back.
A victim’s account
One such victim was Deepak Bansal, a Delhi-based man who is into 3D model-making business. His Facebook account was hacked by the same man using the same modus operandi on April 4.
He claims to have been working for the Prime Minister’s initiative, Make In India, and said his Facebook chats contained confidential information related to his work.
“I coughed up Rs 2,000 in three installments. At his instructions, I transferred the amount to his PayTM account that is registered with the same phone number that he called me from,” Bansal told HT.
But the fraudster refused to transfer the access to his Facebook account, instead demanding more money. His first priority being to get back the control to his Facebook account, over the next three-four days, Bansal then used his own skills to hack into the cheat’s gmail account and retrieve control of his Facebook account.
User who lost her page
But his friend, Pooja Sonik Shukla, a Gurgaon-based freelance make-up artist was not as lucky. She too had lost control of her Facebook account as well as ‘Page’ on April 4 after receiving a call from the man.
She transferred a total of Rs 1,000 to the man’s PayTM account in a desperate bid to get back the access, but it was not to be. Bansal used his skills to help her get access to her Facebook account, but wasn’t able to help her get the ‘page’ back.
She had been using her Facebook page ‘Pooja Sonik Hair And Makeup’ for business. “My page had almost 8,000 likes and great reviews. He has used the settings to ensure no one can even see my page anymore. All my hard work and popularity on social media has been undone,” she said.
Bansal and Shukla visited the cyber crime cells of Delhi Police and Gurgaon Police respectively on April 6 and submitted their complaints, but the culprit continues to roam free. HT’s call to the suspect on the given contact number was met with a volley of verbal abuses. The concerned Delhi Police officers remained unresponsive on the status of Bansal’s complaint.
The two victims told HT they know about 20 people from the ‘glamour industry’ such as fashion designers, make-up artists and photographers from Delhi and NCR who have been duped in the same fashion over the last one month.
“One of the victims coughed up Rs 20,000, but could not get the access back to his Facebook page. Another make-up artist had over 1 lakh likes on her page, but she no more has control over it,” said Bansal.
Faizan Patel, a Delhi-based professional photographer, said he too received a call from his number, but he sensed it was a fraudster. “But one of my photographer friend fell in the trap and lost his Facebook page that had around 20,000 likes,” Patel said.
A search on Facebook threw up dozens of similar complains about calls from this particular phone number. While a few of them had refused to share their OTPs, others were tricked into giving in to the man’s demands and regretting it later.