Beware of online ‘friends’ sending you giftsUpdated: Jan 10, 2020, 00:52 IST
When a 54-year-old boutique shop owner from Nerul received a friend request from a stranger on Facebook, she accepted it without suspecting anything.
After befriending her, the man from the United Kingdom told her that he sent her expensive purses and gold and diamond jewellery. When the woman went to collect them, she was asked to pay hefty ‘custom duty.’ She ended up losing ₹24.18 lakh.
In 2019, the Navi Mumbai police registered four such cases where people collectively lost ₹85.94 lakh.
A similar modus operandi is used by conmen to target women on matrimonial websites.
A 55-year-old Kharghar based teacher, who had separated from her husband, had matched with a man who claimed to be a US-based civil engineer.
Later, he told her he was going to Nepal on a ship and had heard rumours of pirates attacking vessels. He claimed to have couriered all his valuables to her so that they would be safe.
The woman lost ₹42 lakh of her savings towards ‘customs duty’ to collect the valuables.
In matrimonial frauds, two women lost ₹43.8 lakh in the city last year. Police said they have noticed a trend of cybercriminals targeting women through Facebook friendship and matrimonial scams.
This year, the cyber cell of the Navi Mumbai police vowed to focus on preventing such cases. However, the challenge that remains in front of the cyber cell is detecting these cases. A team of 12-15 personnel in the department is tasked with investigating cybercrimes.
The police are planning to impart training to personnel at local police stations as well.
“We are aiming to train officers at police stations to detect cybercrimes as well. This year, a select few officers will be trained in basic detection of such cases,” said Pravin Patil, deputy commissioner of police, crime.
Sanjay Kumar, Navi Mumbai police commissioner, spoke to students during the Maharashtra Police ‘Raising Week’ at the commissioner’s office and urged them to reduce screen time, warning them that internet only provides perceived anonymity.
“The internet provides you perceived anonymity. If you feel you are using internet in the privacy of your room, under your blanket, it is protected from your parents. But, the world can watch. This perceived anonymity leads to people become uninhibited that further leads to problems,” Kumar said addressing the students.
“In 2019, we found 38 people who published indecent pictures on the social media. Some sneaked into a bathroom and clicked a picture while some people shared intimate photos of their girlfriend on the website. The age group of these people is between 18 and 34,” added Kumar.
An officer from the cyber cell requesting not to be named said, “The signs of deceit are very clear in cases of matrimonial and Facebook frauds. But often, people ignore the red flags and fall into the friendship trap.”