May 21, 2021 10:28:42 pm
Two men have been arrested by the Delhi Police Cyber Cell for allegedly creating a fake Covid vaccination registration website to target people desperately searching for an empty slot, and duping thousands to the tune of Rs 40 lakh.
According to police, the accused – Shekhar Periyar and Ashok Singh – created a website that is similar to the government’s CoWin portal and charged Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000 from each user. They also provided them with fake registration receipts.
At least five such fake websites and portals have been blocked by the Delhi Police till date, who are also on the lookout for other accused involved in creating such websites and portals.
A senior police officer said, “We have received several complaints from people on our helpline numbers and through social media complaining how they lost money after registering for the Covid vaccine. Most of the complainants were trying to find a slot on the original website but couldn’t get one. They then searched online and came across these fake websites. Some of the users were asked to pay for the slots, which they did, and were provided with fake receipts for the vaccination.”
In the current case, the Cyber Cell received a complaint about a fake website – https://mohfw[.]xyz/ – which had the same layout, colours and logo/emblem as the original CoWin website of the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare.
“The fake website had the same links and documents as the original. The victims thought they were accessing the original or an alternative provided by the government. They were then directed to two payment links, which charged them Rs 4,000 to Rs 6,000,” said the officer.
After a case was registered, police immediately blocked the website with help from internet service providers.
During investigation, police found that the accused were operating from West Bengal. An officer from the Cyber Cell said, “We sent our teams to the state and arrested Periyar from Siliguri. He was cheating people all over the country with his fake website. We also found transactions worth Rs 40 lakh from his bank account.”
Periyar works with a gang of cyber cheats who are involved in creating fake websites and cheating people during the pandemic. During questioning, he revealed the name of one of his associates. Police then arrested Singh from Uttarakhand.
Cautioning people against such fake websites, a Delhi Police spokesperson said, “The accused send links of their fake websites through bulk messages and on social media. These websites, which are similar to the original website, then ask for Aadhaar card and bank details and steal personal information and money.”
On Friday, Delhi Police spokesperson Chinmoy Biswal said four more fake vaccination websites are being used to cheat people — https://selfregistration.sit.co-vin.in/; http://tiny.cc/COVID-VACCINE; https://selfregistration.preprod.co-vin.in/; https://app.preprod.co-vin.in/login.
“As we take precautions against Covid, so we must take against Covid fraud. Fake vaccination sites found duping people… don’t click on fake sites, links. Protect your money and data. Only log in through https://cowin.gov.in or CoWin/ArogyaSetu App,” said the Delhi Police in a tweet.
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