Cyber criminals have hit upon a new strategy: getting someone to allow the use of their bank account, and using it to transfer their ill-gotten gains to accounts abroad.
The local who allows the use of his/her bank account either gets a cut of the money made through fraud, or a specific sum agreed upon before the transaction. The flipside: the local is tracked down by the police, even as the main accused operating from abroad evade capture.
The cyber police have been busting rackets that cheat victims online by promising large sums as ‘prize money’. The police call this a Nigerian scam. The criminals, operating from abroad, use the bank accounts to conduct the transactions for the scam.
An officer said that some of the scamsters had agents in the city who scout for people — usually not very well off — and lure them into letting their bank accounts be used. “The beneficiary account holders either get a cut of the money, or are given Rs3,000 – Rs5000 for allowing the use of their accounts.”
Recently, the BKC cyber police investigated a case in which a scammer claiming to be a Scotland-based engineer cheated a Chembur-resident widow of Rs17 lakh after promising to marry her. Investigations led the police to three men, to whose account the victim had been told to transfer the money. By the time the three were arrested, the Rs17 lakh had been transferred to accounts in Nigeria. The three claimed they had no idea about the scam. “The person asked for the use of their bank accounts, saying he did not have one himself and had to receive a sum of money from a relative,” a cyber police official said. The accused promised the three a cut.
“We suspect they knew it was a scam, but were lured into it as they thought they were getting money for nothing,” said an officer from BKC cyber police requesting anonymity.
Those who let their accounts be used do not realise they will be the first link to the accused as the money was transferred to their account.
“Cyber criminals operating from overseas often use the accounts of locals to obfuscate the money trail,” said joint commissioner of police, crime, Himanshu Roy. “Also, the victim would be hesitant to transfer funds to a foreign bank account.”