Cybercrooks con patients in the name of confirming ABMH doctors’ appointments - Hindustan Times
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Cybercrooks con patients in the name of confirming ABMH doctors’ appointments

ByVicky Pathare
May 24, 2023 10:25 PM IST

So far, two incidents have come to light wherein patients/relatives have been cheated of ₹17,500 and ₹55,555

PUNE: In the latest scam to have surfaced, cybercrooks are conning unassuming patients and their kin seeking online appointments with doctors affiliated to the Aditya Birla Memorial Hospital (ABMH). Turns out the patients/relatives are using Google search services to find the contact numbers of ABMH (ABMH doctors) only to come across unauthorised numbers listed by the fraudsters. Upon calling these numbers, the patients/kin are being cheated of huge sums of money in the name of confirming the doctors’ appointments. Interestingly, the scammers seem to be well aware of the names, contact details, timing and availability of the doctors affiliated to ABMH.

In its complaint filed with the cybercrime cell of Wakad police station, ABMH stated that the hospital has realised that fraudsters are displaying unauthorised mobile numbers as belonging to ABMH. (REPRESENTATIVE PIC)
In its complaint filed with the cybercrime cell of Wakad police station, ABMH stated that the hospital has realised that fraudsters are displaying unauthorised mobile numbers as belonging to ABMH. (REPRESENTATIVE PIC)

So far, two incidents have come to light wherein patients/relatives have been cheated of 17,500 and 55,555, respectively. In the first such incident reported on April 12, a patient used Google search services to book an online appointment with a doctor at ABMH only to end up losing 16,000 and 1,500 in two separate transactions.

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In the second incident, a complaint regarding which was filed on May 19, one Balasaheb Dhakne from Nigdi lost 55,555 while booking an online appointment with a doctor at ABMH. Dhakne complained to the hospital and the police. He said that while looking for ABMH’s contact numbers to book an appointment, he came across a number on a non-ABMH website being paraded as a ABMH number. “Upon calling that number, my call got disconnected and a person called me back from another number to tell me that the hospital would get back to me. Later, I received an SMS from another number. Again, someone called me from a new number and told me to send a ‘hi’ on WhatsApp from my number. He then shared a link with me and asked me to fill in the patient’s details and pay 10. Upon entering the UPI code, the payment failed. However, on May 14 at 1.48 pm, I got an SMS alert that 55,555 had been deducted from my account,” Dhakne recalled.

Saurav Chatterjee, senior general manager, ABMH, said, “We have been receiving various such complaints from our patients in writing and on the phone about this fraud for the last few weeks. We have already lodged complaints with the cybercrime cell for necessary action. Further, we have put up a notice in the interest of the public at large on our official website and on our social media platforms to alert our patients to be careful while making any such unauthorised transactions through unidentified telephone numbers.”

In its complaint filed with the cybercrime cell of Wakad police station, ABMH stated that the hospital has realised that fraudsters are displaying unauthorised mobile numbers as belonging to ABMH on Google pages and asking patients for online payments in the name of confirming doctors’ appointments.

According to Chatterjee, the numbers reported as used by the fraudsters for such transactions include: 9162124966, 9004676782, 9356153321, 07439279713, 8828824128, 08100085894, 07439303221, 078404005321, 08910218730, and 18002086388. He clarified that ABMH does not solicit payments through unidentified telephone numbers and all payment transactions are processed through authorised channels only. Those who suspect they are being taken for a ride should contact the hospital authorities and not fall prey to the scam, he said.

Sanjay Tungar, senior police inspector attached to the cybercrime cell of Pimpri-Chinchwad police, who is investigating the complaint, asked citizens to be cautious when availing online services and making online payments. “The patients and citizens should crosscheck the credentials of the number, website and links before making any payment. It is better if they contact the official number of the hospital for an appointment. Cybercriminals remain anonymous and one should not trust them to share details like names, numbers or bank details,” he said.

“Do not trust an unknown person whom you have never seen. Never click on an unknown link or install any application,” Tungar warned.

In 2021, a similar phishing scam was reported in which families of patients in critical care and ICUs at private hospitals and Sassoon General Hospital had been targeted. Several patients and their relatives had been conned on the pretext of selling emergency medicines and injections.

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