24-year-old woman duped of 15 lakh by ‘Florida friend’ she met on Instagram

Published on Aug 15, 2022 12:37 AM IST

Mumbai: A 24-year-old woman from Andheri was duped of ₹15 lakh by a group of cyber fraudsters, one of who befriended her on Instagram by posing as a US-based surgeon currently working in a military camp in Syria

According to the police complaint, Smith introduced himself as a Florida-based surgeon currently working in Hamam military camp in Syria (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
According to the police complaint, Smith introduced himself as a Florida-based surgeon currently working in Hamam military camp in Syria (Getty Images/iStockphoto)
ByVijay Kumar Yadav

Mumbai: A 24-year-old woman from Andheri was duped of 15 lakh by a group of cyber fraudsters, one of who befriended her on Instagram by posing as a US-based surgeon currently working in a military camp in Syria. The accused gained the victim’s trust through false and emotional stories and later squeezed money from her under false pretexts. The cyber police (West region) are investigating the case.

The complainant, who works as a lab technician with a Bandra-based private hospital, on April 14, 2022, received a message from one Benson Smith on Instagram. The message said: “Hey Charming What an astonishing smile you got here I got caught by that wonderful smile; I couldn’t take my eyes off you without saying Hi.” She responded to it and the two started chatting frequently thereafter.

According to the police complaint, Smith introduced himself as a Florida-based surgeon currently working in Hamam military camp in Syria. He told the woman that his salary bank account and locker have good savings. But he suspects that the bank manager is misusing money from the account and the locker, hence he wants to keep his bank money and gold from the locker in someone’s safe custody.

Since he has no family or relatives in Florida, he told the complainant woman that he is sending his money and gold to her in India in a parcel via a Syria embassy diplomat for safekeeping. Smith also shared the parcel tracking code with her.

“On May 6 the complainant received an email from the courier company stating that her parcel has arrived from Syria to India and if she wants to take the delivery of the parcel then she would have to pay an emergency charge of 2.84 lakh. She paid the money. Later, a person posing as a diplomat from Syria in India called the woman and asked her to deposit 4 lakh to get the customs clearance certificate,” said a cyber police station official.

“Despite payment of all these fees, the parcel was stuck at the security checks. To verify the content of the parcel, Smith was asked to come to India by the embassy officials. Smith asked the complainant woman to help him with 7 lakh to get the leave sanctioned on an emergency basis. The woman not only helped him with this money but also paid for his air tickets costing around 2.4 lakh,” the police said.

Smith texted the complainant on WhatsApp on his arrival in India and informed her that he would require 10 lakh to get the parcel containing expensive gold jewellery and his life savings cleared from customs.

She paid some part of it. Later when she was asked to pay more, she said she had no money left and also requested Smith to return her money, but in vain. By the time the complainant realized that she was being conned, she had already lost nearly 15 lakh, another police officer said.

The police on Friday filed the FIR against an unknown accused on the woman’s complaint. The cyber police have said that the manner in which the crime is committed indicates the involvement of a Nigerian gang in the fraud. The police have written to the Delhi branches of Canara Bank and IDBI Bank seeking details of the beneficiary bank accounts.

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Wednesday, October 05, 2022
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