Couple duped by cyber fraudsters running fake site for Kedarnath chopper service

Published on Sep 15, 2022 04:52 PM IST

The doctor couple, Sangeeta Laha and Suprabhat Laha from Kolkata said they were asked to transfer ₹15,408 for booking a helicopter ride for the annual Kedarnath Yatra

The accused had listed his own mobile number on the fake website as that of an agent of helicopter service. (File image)
The accused had listed his own mobile number on the fake website as that of an agent of helicopter service. (File image)

A doctor couple from Kolkata were allegedly duped by cyber fraudsters running a fake website for helicopter service for Kedarnath Yatra.

Non-availability of tickets, with most of them being sold till October 24 on the official online booking site, has led pilgrims to fall prey to cyber criminals running fake websites and duping them on the pretext of booking chopper rides in Uttarakhand.

The doctor couple, Sangeeta Laha and Suprabhat Laha from Kolkata said they were asked to transfer 15,408 for booking a helicopter ride for the annual Kedarnath Yatra.

The accused had listed his own mobile number on the fake website as that of an agent of helicopter service in Kedarnath.

Also Read:Online fraud | Panchkula woman taken for ride on pretext of Char Dham chopper services

The couple tried to lodge a complaint addressing their grievance of overcharging and corruption on the Uttarakhand CM online complaint portal but on receiving no response, they filed a complaint at the cyber cell in Kolkata police station.

Sangeeta said, “We decided to visit Kedarnath shrine for Darshan on October 16 and thought of booking Heli tickets online from Sirsi to Kedarnath through an agent claiming to be working for a Heli service company in Dehradun. But we didn’t receive a ticket after the online booking. So, we decided to lodge a complaint at Kolkata police station”

In the complaint, the doctor couple stated that the Aadhaar card and other details as mentioned in the format were given on the website after which they received a chart for Sirsi to Kedarnath (round trip same day journey on October 16).

They demanded 2,122- (one way for one person). So, we deposited 8,488/-round trip fare for two persons on September 1 in Bank of Baroda, Behala branch.

The next day, we received a WhatsApp message saying that we have to deposit tax (refundable) of 6,920/- and this amount was deposited on September 2 in the same branch in the name of Manish Sharma.

“Later, we received another WhatsApp message for depositing 5,152 for safety and insurance charges (refundable) but on suspecting foul play we did not deposit the said amount and asked for a refund due to a change of mind and unwillingness to go to Kedarnath”, said Sangeet, adding they didn’t receive any refund.

Captain Sameer, a senior official from Uttarakhand civil aviation development authority Dehradun said, “The online helicopter service ticket booking for Kedarnath is being done through the official website of Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam only through https://heliservices.uk.gov.in/. and no other website has the right to make Heli bookings”.

Ankur Mishra, DySP cybercrime cell Dehradun said, “Most of these fraudsters work from Jharkhand and Bihar and are quick to close their website and bank accounts after duping the pilgrims.”

In case of any online troubles or financial issues, people should use helpline number 1930 for emergency help and to register complaints said, he added.

The tourism department officials said regular cautionary messages are being given to the tourists via print and digital media to stay away from such fraudulent websites.

Poonam Chand, additional director of tourism said, “There is only one official’s website of the Garhwal Mandal Vikas Nigam which is mandated to book tickets for helicopter services and the warning banner is flashed with every click on the official website warning the pilgrims to stay away from such frauds.”

Around 6-7 Heli-services companies are operating flights to Kedarnath and the tickets for the helicopter service have been sold out till October 24 so the pilgrims should not attempt to book their tickets early from any other website which is often fake, said Chand.

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