On a matrimonial website? Watch out for scamsters who claim to be NRIs to first befriend, and then cheat users of money.
The daughter of a retired deputy commissioner of police (DCP) was recently cheated of Rs4.31 lakh by a man she got to know through one such website.
Vipin Patnikar, alias Abhishek, has used the site to cheat women across the country for months now, the police found, after arresting him at Indore, when he went to that city to collect money from another woman.
Patnikar, who is orignally from Hyderabad, used the same website and same method to cheat other women too.
“He would claim to be an NRI based in the USA when he started talking to the women. Later, he would start asking them for money. His reason was always that he was facing financial issues. He promised the women he would return the money at the earliest,” said an officer from the Navghar police station.
Patnikar used the same method when he approached the retried DCP’s daughter Dipti Ramesh Bival.
The police said Patnikar and Bival started chatting on the website, and then speaking on the phone regularly.
“The victim stays as a paying guest in Mulund and worked as a manager in a south Mumbai firm. Patnikar ensured she got comfortable talking to him. He gained her trust and then claimed he needed money for business deals. He told her that if he failed to pay up, he would face huge losses,” said another officer privy to the investigation. Bival agreed to pay him Rs4.31 lakh. The payment was made using internet banking, over multiple transactions. After a point, Patnikar switched off his mobile phone.
When Bival could not get in touch with him, she gave the Navghar police a written application of the complaint, which was then turned into an FIR. Patnikar has been slapped with cases of cheating, under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code and other relevant sections of the IPC and the IT Act.
Senior police inspector Madhav More from the Navghar police station confirmed the case and said, “Our team was in Indore to take custody of Patnikar. A court has said that will hand him over after January 14. The Indore police will bring him to Mumbai.”
Matrimonial sites: Things to remember
Don’t reveal personal information such as your name, address, email address, telephone numbers or place of work right in the beginning
Stay away from people who ask for money
Try to remain anonymous until you fully trust a person
Stop communicating with anyone who keeps asking for photographs, mailing address or mobile number or tries to trick you into revealing such details
Crosscheck before dialling a phone number with a strange area code to a avoid a huge phone bill
Don’t use your personal or professional email id to communicate with a person you don’t know well. Create a temporary one instead
Use a pre-paid mobile phone number or blocking techniques to prevent your phone number from being revealed
Dial 9820810007 or 022-26504008 to report any cyber-crime activity to the Mumbai police
Office: Cyber police station, first floor, Bandra-Kurla Complex police station, Bandra (East).
Safety tips for social media
Do not accept friend requests from unknown people as cybercriminals create fake accounts to access personal information
Avoid posting your photos or information such as your residential address, phone number and date of birth since they can be misused
Do not leave your computer unattended with your Facebook account open
May 2016: A 32-year-old homemaker from Dadar was cheated of Rs6.5 lakh by one Steve John. After getting emotionally connected with John, she told him that her family was facing financial crises . The accused told her that he had sent her a gift box, consisting of 23,000 pounds. Over the course of a few months, she ended up paying Rs6.5 lakh to people impersonating as bank and customs officials to receive the gift, which was never delivered to her. She realised the scam when John stopped answering her calls.
January 2016: A 32-year-old woman from Thane Nagar was cheated of Rs1.86 lakh by her Facebook friend Frank Bell who used the same modus operandi. He sent her a Christmas gift from London for which she had paid Rs1.86 lakh. The gift remained undelivered.
September 2015: Sushant Gavare (name changed), who owns coaching institutes, was cheated of Rs20.76 lakh by a Facebook ‘friend’. He paid the money as processing fee for expensive gifts — gold watches, gold chains, a high-end laptop, an expensive smartphone, three cheques totalling £15,000 (more than Rs15 lakh) and the promise to transfer £50,000 (more than Rs51 lakh) to his bank account. To gain Gavare’s trust, the woman had couriered him an ATM card with the password he used to withdraw Rs10,000.