Fraudsters dupe 60 of ₹2 crore in guise of paying power bills in Gurugram
Since January 1, at least 60 people in Gurugram have fallen victim to a cyber fraud in which fraudsters impersonated executives of a power supply company and tricked them into transferring money under the guise of paying unpaid electricity bills or updating their payment in the system
Since January 1, at least 60 people in Gurugram have fallen victim to a cyber fraud in which fraudsters impersonated executives of a power supply company and tricked them into transferring money under the guise of paying unpaid electricity bills or updating their payment in the system. The police have received 60 such complaints and registered 17 first information reports. According to investigators familiar with the cases, the complainants lost more than ₹2 crore.
The complainants said they received messages purportedly sent by Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam (DHBVN) informing them that their electricity bills had not been paid. When they called the numbers back, the fraudster asked them to reveal their debit and credit card information or sent a QR code or OTP, which they used to withdraw money from their account.
On January 7, a 69-year-old Sector 48 resident said he received a call from a mobile number saying his electricity bill had not been paid. “The caller requested that I pay the bill and change the customer ID. Then, he told me to download an application called AnyDesk. After downloading it, he asked me to make a ₹10 transaction, which I did with my credit card. Later, I received notification from the bank that ₹11 lakh had been debited from my account,” said Nishal Singh.
Yet another complainant, a 42-year-old multinational company senior executive, approached police on February 19. “The text message mentioned a mobile number; I called the number, and the fraudster asked me to reveal my debit card details, which he then used to withdraw ₹3.50 lakh from their account,” said Kamlesh Joon, a Sushant Lok-1 resident.
Similarly, a DLF 5 resident said that on February 23, he received a message that the power utility would disconnect his electricity connection due to non-payment of his bill. He received an email with a link to an outstanding payment of ₹11 and clicked on it. “I received a message after the transaction that ₹1.99 lakh had been spent from my card. I neither authorised this transaction nor entered any OTP,” Abhay Singh said.
According to investigators, many residents received a message saying they should download a quick support app before paying their electricity bill. “The fraudster duped at least 20 people this year using this method,” said Jasvir Singh, station house officer at Cyber police station.
According to Priyanshu Dewan, assistant commissioner of police (Cyber), electricity bill fraud begins with a text message. “People should not click on hyperlinks (blue coloured links) in text messages because doing so will lead to downloading a remote access application. This application grants cybercriminals access to your mobile payment wallets and banking applications. So even if you accidentally click on one of these links, turn your phone into airplane mode immediately. And file a complaint with the national cybercrime reporting portal 1930,” he added.
Dewan advised people to visit their local electricity office for questions.
The district administration has urged people to immediately report any such message to the authorities. In addition, DHBVN has clarified that the discom only sends reminders to pay electricity bills and does not threaten to disconnect the supply.
“If residents receive a message claiming to be from the DHBVN and asking for electricity bill payment or else they would disconnect the connection in a few hours, please delete such messages and alert the cyber police,” said Gurugram deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav. “The discom does not send a message of disconnection for non-payment or delayed payment, nor does it request that you contact any specific number or share any payment link,” he added.
According to Amit Khatri, managing director of DHBVN, the power supply company never sends any warning messages to its customers about disconnecting electricity due to unpaid bills.
“We also never ask anyone to call us on a personal phone number. If a consumer has an outstanding bill and receives such a warning SMS, he should exercise caution and not click on any links embedded in the message. Consumers should also avoid disclosing their debit or credit card and bank account information to anyone posing as DHBVN staff or officials,” he added.
Khatri said they only send messages to concerned consumers with the sender highlighted as ‘DHBVNL’, and that people can seek assistance by visiting the official website or calling the toll-free number 18001804334.
The 17 FIRs have been registered under sections 419 (cheating by personation) and 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property) of the Indian Penal Code and the police have begun an investigation.
According to investigators familiar with the matter, at least 35 similar cases were registered in the city last year.