ON A daily basis, there are at least 20 cases in which people in Mumbai lose their money by giving away their credit or debit card details to fraudsters pretending to be calling from their banks, according to the helpline created by the Mumbai Police to address the rising number of people falling victims to vishing.
The helpline, 9820810007, along with a video advertisement featuring actor-director Ajay Devgn, was launched by
the Mumbai Police on June 16. So far, it has received over a 1,000 calls, most of them from people losing money to fraudulent callers.
An official who handles these calls said ever since the helpline was launched, they receive at least 20-25 calls on a daily basis. “On odd days, the number may fall to 15 or rise to 30 calls. But on most days, we receive at least 20 calls. Majority of these calls are related to cases of people who have lost money to fraudulent callers,” the official said.
The official, who did not wish to be named, said majority of the fraudulant callers broadly use three excuses based on which they ask people for their card details. “After people were asked to link their Aadhaar number to their PAN recently, the accused, pretending to be calling from their banks, would call people, initially asking for their Aadhaar and PAN details to link those. Later, they would ask the debit card number and One Time Password (OTP),” the official said.
He added: “Prior to that, they would call up claiming to be from the bank and pretend to be upgrading the ‘security measures on the card’ for which they would seek details. Lastly, they would claim that the person has accumulated membership reward points and would ask for their card details so that the amount can be credited to them.”
When harrowed victims call up the helpline, they are guided about the measures that one has to take and are asked to approach the local police station and get an FIR registered.
Apart from guiding victims, the officials handling the helpline also take down all the mobile numbers from which the fraudulent calls are made. “We maintain a database of these numbers. The first step is to contact the service providers of these numbers and get them blocked,” the official said.
After the number is blocked, the officials try to track down the person in whose name a particular mobile number is registered. “All numbers are fraudulently obtained. We found these numbers are obtained using bogus documents and they did not lead us to the right person,” a senior officer said. “What we have also found is that they use a SIM card registered in one state and make calls from another state to confuse investigating agencies. We have found SIM cards registered in Jharkhand being use by callers from Kerala,” the officer said. The officer added that most of these calls are made from Delhi, Chhattisgarh and recently, they have also started receiving calls from Kerala and Hyderabad.
So far, the Mumbai Police have not met with much success in tracing the accused involved in these cases.
An officer from the control room said: “This is a pan-India problem. While this is a helpline meant mainly for Mumbai, we get callers from Gujarat, Bihar, Odisha and even Andaman. People across the country are falling victims to such calls and no one seems to have an answer as yet on how to stop these calls.”