HR professional loses 2.5 lakh to MSEDCL spoof website

ByGautam S. Mengle
Aug 30, 2022 12:31 AM IST

According to the Bhandup police, the complainant, Supriya Dabhade (41), is a human resources professional who stays with her family in Bhandup.

Mumbai: A 41-year-old woman lost 2.5 lakh in a sophisticated electricity bill scam, where instead of the usual method of smooth-talking or using screen-sharing apps, the accused used a spoofed page of the Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MSEDCL) for the con. This is the second such case reported this year, sparking concerns among cybercrime law enforcement agencies.

Representative image
Representative image

According to the Bhandup police, the complainant, Supriya Dabhade (41), is a human resources professional who stays with her family in Bhandup. The police said that the offence was committed on Saturday when she received a message stating that her electricity connection would be terminated due to non-payment of her bill.

“The complainant thought that the message was genuine as she had actually not paid the previous month’s bill. She visited the MSEDCL website and paid her bill, after which she downloaded the payment acknowledgement in PDF format and sent it via WhatsApp to the number from which she had received the message,” said an officer attached to the Bhandup police station.

Immediately, Dabhade received a call from the number and the caller told her that her payment was not reflected in the system. He then sent her a link, which looked like the URL to the MSEDCL website, and asked her to make a further payment of 100, supposedly to “fix the issue”.

As soon as Dabhade made the payment using the link, 2.5 lakh was debited from her account. She immediately obtained the details of the transaction from the bank and rushed to the police station. The police registered a case of cheating under the Indian Penal Code, along with relevant sections of the Information Technology (IT) Act.

“We have contacted the bank from our own end and officially sought details of the transaction so that we can analyse the link on which the complainant made the payment. We have also started the procedure for freezing and reversing the transaction, so that we may try and return the money to her,” said senior police inspector Nitin Unhavane, Bhandup police station.

A similar case was reported in February this year after the cyber police station in BKC arrested a Jharkhand native for conning scores of MSEDCL customers by creating a spoof of the organisation’s website. “The concern here is that spoofing a website takes some level of technical know-how. Instead of smooth-talking fraudsters, if more people with knowledge of software engineering start turning to cybercrimes, the possibilities of the havoc they can wreak are endless. We are tracking the matter closely,” a cyber police officer said.

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