Kannur: If the numbers are anything to go by, Kannur is fast turning out to be a hub of cyber frauds, mainly online job scams. According to police data, victims have lost a whopping amount of Rs 3 crore to cybercriminals in the past six months alone or Rs 50 per month on average. Police said the figure was from the 61 cases registered at various station limits across the district.
"Among these cases, the largest amount lost by an individual is Rs 59 lakh. In this instance, a woman government employee fell victim to the fraud. Similarly, there are instances of individuals from all walks of life losing large sums to 'Work From Home' scams," said Kannur Cyber police SHO K Sanal Kumar, who is leading the investigations in the cases.
Job offers through messaging apps
According to Kumar, scammers lure their victims through 'job offers' received from unknown accounts on messaging apps like Telegram and WhatsApp. "The fraudsters offer high pay for performing online tasks like promoting products and services of some companies. Attracted by the high revenue, most victims accept the offer and start working after paying a registration fee of Rs 1,000. Initially, the victims receive the promised remuneration. Once they are hooked in, fraudsters dangle a fresh offer -- a high rate of return for a minimum deposit. Trusting their 'employers', people transfer lakhs of rupees from their bank accounts. Once they receive the money, scammers block victims on social media accounts and end all communications," Kumar said.
"Even if victims manage to ask fraudsters about their investments and interest, scammers would convince them that it was due to some clearances related to income tax. Then they would even demand more money for income tax clearance," said the police officer.
Inter-state gang involving Malayalis
Police investigation found that the scammers have an interstate network and operate in a well-professional manner. "We suspect that criminal gangs recruit people from all states including Malayalis to communicate with people from respective states. In all the cases reported in the district, victims said they were contacted by Malayalis. However, fraudsters operate from outside the state or abroad almost always. They get hold of bank accounts and SIM cards of common people from North India for fraud. They offer thousands of rupees to people to get bank accounts and SIM cards. Attracted by the offer, people hand over their bank accounts and SIM cards to the scammers without knowing its legal consequences," Kumar said.
Dial 1930 in case of cyber fraud
With the number of online frauds rising in the district, police have warned the public to keep vigil against cyber frauds. "In most cases, cybercriminals use the same modus operandi to steal lakhs from victims' bank accounts. People should avoid unsolicited calls, emails or messages since it all starts with a scammer pretending to be a bank official.
If anyone loses money to online fraud, people should immediately inform the police by dialling 1930. Victims can also register complaints through www.cybercrime.gov.in, police said.