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Woman Lawyer Duped of over Rs 14 Lakhs by “Cybercrime Police”

Woman Lawyer Duped of over Rs 14 Lakhs by “Cybercrime Police”

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NEW DELHI, Apr 9: An incident involving a practicing lawyer in Bengaluru show the smartness of the scamsters to dupe on legal aspects even a lawyer to the tune of over Rs 14 lakhs and then blackmail her to extort another Rs 10 lakhs when she realised that she was being duped and reached the police for help.

Bengaluru police said an investigation was underway to unearth the scamsters.

According to the complainant, the scamsters followed her and recording her every movement through online camera practically holding her hostage for nearly two days, with her video camera or microphone on at all times, by people claiming to be from the Mumbai cybercrime police or sometimes claiming to be central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to the lawyer’s complaint, her ordeal began last Wednesday (April 3) when she got a call from someone claiming to be from FedEx, who said a parcel in her name had been returned. She was told the parcel was sent from Mumbai to Thailand and contained five passports, three credit cards and 140 pills of the banned drug MDMA, or ecstasy.

When the lawyer said she had nothing to do with the parcel, she was asked if she wanted to reach out to the cybercrime team in Mumbai to register a complaint of identity theft. When she answered in the affirmative, she was transferred to somebody who, the scamsters claimed, was from the cybercrime team.

The person on the other end asked the lawyer to download Skype and begin a call on the popular video-calling app. “After I downloaded Skype and added them, they asked for details about the alleged illegal parcel and also my Aadhaar card information. After this, the so-called officer checked with higher authorities and told me that my Aadhaar card is on high alert for human trafficking and drugs. Then the Skype call got transferred to an alleged senior CBI officer named Abhishek Chauhan, where I was asked to switch on my camera and begin the conversation,” the woman said in her first information report (FIR).

The woman said the ‘officer’ noted down all her details, including the balance in her account, her salary and investments. “After some time, he said there is an order from his higher officials and he wanted me to read out an order about confidentiality wherein I was made to take an oath that I would not disclose any details until the investigation is complete,” the FIR states.

When she asked if he could speak to her family or a police officer, she was told not to do so and was assured that this was for her “own safety.” On further prodding, she was fed a story about a money laundering and human trafficking scam being run by someone from one of India’s leading banks using employee details.

“Because there were police and politicians involved in this high-profile case, I was asked to cooperate with them and not talk to anybody. For all of Wednesday I was under surveillance, I was asked to switch on my camera and share my screen so that they could see if I was calling or texting anybody. I was watched the entire day and, even at night, I was asked to keep the camera on and sleep,” the FIR stated.

The next day, the “CBI officer” Chauhan asked her to, “as per RBI guidelines,” transfer all the money from her account to a dummy account to check the legality of the transactions. She was told to go to her bank branch, where she transferred the ₹ 10.79 lakh she had in her account to another account of the same bank. All the while, she was asked to remain on the call and share her phone’s screen so she could be monitored.

Hours later, after the money was transferred, she was told they had finished checking most of the transactions but there were some discrepancies in her credit card dealings. She was then made to download an app, through which the scamsters tried to purchase Bitcoin worth $5,000 (approximately ₹ 4.16 lakh) but the transaction was declined.

The lawyer was then asked to change the usage limit but two subsequent attempts still failed. To avoid the “misuse” of her card, she was asked to send its photos and then transactions worth ₹ 2.04 lakh and ₹ 1.73 lakh on a shopping site were carried out in the early hours of Thursday (April 5). When she got calls from her bank’s customer care, she was forced to confirm she had made the transactions or else they would not be able to shut the case.

After these transactions, the lawyer was made to strip for the “narcotics test.” “After they took all the money, Abhishek Chauhan asked me to get ready for narcotics drugs test. I was forced to strip and asked to make lewd videos while the camera was on. They threatened and abused me to continue doing so or they would arrest me and my family in a drugs case and also kill or hurt me and my family,” she said in the FIR.

The lawyer said the person then blackmailed her and said he would send her videos to multiple people and put them on the dark web if he wasn’t given ₹ 10 lakh by 3 pm on the same day. This was when the woman filed the police complaint in Bengaluru.

(Manas Dasgupta)


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