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Hoax calls vex Indians abroad: 5 embassies issue warning advisory

Indian embassies in Canada, France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have sent out public notices against such calls.

india Updated: Dec 05, 2017 08:26 IST
Jayanth Jacob
What is most unsettling for people is that the callers use the embassy’s landline numbers.
What is most unsettling for people is that the callers use the embassy’s landline numbers. (File Photo)

Vinod Kuruvilla, 40, was at his wit’s end when he got a call from a number, which he recognised as that of Indian High Commission in Ottawa, Canada.

The caller said his immigration papers were not in order and he must transfer $1,000 immediately to a certain bank account. The engineer from India who had legally migrated to Canada six months ago, called up the high commission. An official told him the call was one of the many cases of cyber fraud where people are asked to transfer money for some reason or the other.

“The embassy officials told me to approach local police and advised me against giving out bank details or money,” he said.

This was not an isolated call, nor was Canada’s only mission to issue warnings. Indian embassies in France, Italy, Spain and Portugal have sent out public notices against such calls.

What is most unsettling for people is that the callers use the embassy’s landline numbers. “The high commission in Ottawa has taken up the matter with the Canadian government and we too have put out a public notice,” an Indian official said.

“It has come to the notice of the mission that its telephone number [613-7443751] is being misused for calling people regarding nationality, passport matters, tax and money-related issues,” the embassy notice said, warning such issue “should be immediately reported to police.”

Canada is home to over 1.2 million Persons of Indian Origin (PIO) and almost 90% of them lives in metropolitan areas and other major cities.

Missions elsewhere have put out similar public notices. “Beware of fraudulent/hoax calls purportedly from telephone number 0140505070/71 belonging to Indian embassy asking for Indian students/diaspora to the transfer of money”, embassy of India never asks for such transfers”, said the warning issued by the embassy in France.

The Indian embassy has estimated that the Indian community, including NRIs, in mainland France number around 106,000.