At least 80 people in Mumbai, mostly in the 60-80 age group, were duped of over Rs 1 crore by cyber fraudsters who tricked them into paying online claiming their electricity bills are not updated, and if they do not comply with, their power supply will be disconnected, police said.
A man was arrested in connection with the fraud, they said. Interestingly, some of the victims who fell prey to this fraud between June 7 and July 4 are doctors, hoteliers, Navy officers, college students, engineers, businessmen, retired government employees and even some maidservants, a police official said. He said the fraudsters used to send random SMSes to people claiming that their previous month’s power bill was not updated and they need to contact the “electricity officer” immediately to avoid disconnecting the power supply.
“The fraudsters also used to mention the contact number of ‘call centres’ in the SMS and when the gullible victims used to call on that number, they were told that their power supply will be disconnected at night. They were given the option to pay online to avoid any hassle. Once they made the payment, the fraudsters would copy details of their accounts and withdraw money,” the official explained. Altogether, Rs 1.06 crore was siphoned off from the bank accounts of 80 people, he said, adding that an elderly woman from suburban Andheri lost Rs 11.8 lakh in the fraud after she received an SMS warning that her power supply will be disconnected at night.
The FIRs, under the Indian Penal Code (IPC) charge of cheating, were registered across 40 police stations in various suburbs of Mumbai, the official said, adding that the victims are consumers of various utilities. Police arrested a 37-year-old man for his alleged involvement in sending such fake SMS to a woman, a resident of the posh Napean Sea Road, who lost money from her two credit card accounts. Apart from the cyber police, the local police are also conducting a parallel investigation, the official added.