A Bengaluru businessman has fallen prey to a new Nigerian phishing racket that promises big profits through a dealership for life saving cancer drugs resulting in an alleged loss of Rs 48.70 lakh.
The 68-year old businessman Lalit Sanghvi has in a police complaint said that he transferred lakhs of rupees to a group that contacted him on social media in the hope of a pharmaceutical dealership with a UK based company only to realise recently that he had fallen prey to con artists.
Sanghvi was approached by a Facebook user Sharen Hansel who claimed to be a pharmaceutical firm employee who was on the lookout for a stockist for ‘Brachystegia Eurocoma seed’ available in India and in great demand in her parent company as a cure for cancer.
“Sharen guaranteed me 60 percent of the profit we make through these transaction. The profits lured me. So I agreed,” Sanghvi said in a recent complaint to the Bengaluru police.
Following the online chats the person claiming to be Sharen put Lalit in touch with a contact in Mumbai called Sandeep – who quoted a price of Rs 1.50 lakh for a packet of the cancer cure ‘Brachystegia Eurocoma seed’. An individual called Alfred Williams also met Sanghvi in Bengaluru in the guise of an official of the pharma company to create circumstances that eventually led Sanghvi into purchasing about 40 packets of the cancer medicine through payments in two installments of Rs. 4.70 lakh and Rs. 44 lakh.
A few days after the transaction was completed Sanghvi found that the persons he had interacted with were no longer reachable through phone calls or e-mails. Not knowing what to do Sanghvi reached out to the police only to learn that the cheating gang had covered the tracks with proxy user IDs and fake SIM cards.
The cancer drug phishing scam is being frequently perpetrated on Internet users through social media these days according to the Bangalore police. For the year 2015 nearly 22 cases of Nigerians phishing scams involving the theft of over Rs. 1 crore has been reported with cancer cure drug con being one of the biggest.
“Earlier scamsters posed as RBI officials, bank internet security team or victims trapped overseas seeking help in handling funds. However banks and other institutions have created awareness among users which has forced the scamsters to devise new methods to run their organized crimes,” DCP (crime) in Bengaluru R Ramesh said. “The main problem in the Nigerian scams is that the victims refuse to believe that they have been scammed. Even while complaining they believe that the scam is about poor product quality or bad business partners. They simply can’t digest being cheated,” the DCP said.
In over 50 percent of the phishing cases reported this year in Bengaluru officials reported encountering collusion between foreign nationals and locals.
Some of the other cancer drug solicitations reported to the police involve a person going by the name Nanca Piergiorgio posing as a British National and offering pharmaceutical dealership through the purchase of a minimum consignment of 25 packets of cancer curing seeds costing Rs. 6,25,000.
“The perpetrators keep on improvising.They are good at technology, sweet-talk and gaining the trust of new internet users. They collect email addresses of their victims from various sources, cross refer it with their profiles on social networking sites and then target them. People must be careful in internet transactions and should avoid unsolicited emails,” DCP Ramesh said.