The Mumbai Police Crime Branch’s Economic Offences Wing (EOW) is planning to turn to social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter to spread awareness about financial scams and invite complaints or information about any such crimes.
EOW officials said the move was aimed at better interaction with people as well as better intelligence gathering, as scams such as multi-level marketing schemes and investment scams are on the rise, and such scams involve lakhs or crores of rupees. “We are planning to use social marketing tools like Facebook and Twitter to create awareness about financial crimes, so that people do not fall prey to them. People need to be made aware of such risks,” said Joint Commissioner of Police (EOW) Dhananjay Kamalakar.
Serial scams are basically either investment scams, where people are encouraged to invest money in exchange for attractive returns or multi-level marketing schemes, where the victims are conned into believing they are investing in a great scheme and then asked to get more investors for monetary incentives.
“Such schemes operate on word of mouth publicity, and are not reported till it is too late. By the time a complaint is made, the accused cheats hundreds of people to the tune of lakhs or crores of rupees. Awareness about the modus operandi of such schemes will prevent people from falling prey to such scams, and might motivate them to report such scams to us if they know of any such schemes being promoted,” said an EOW officer.
The EOW recently arrested Madras Cafe actress Leena Maria Paul, as well as the son and grandson of renowned Bollywood lyricist Hasrat Jaipuri, for one such investment scam. The accused are alleged to have cheated close to 1000 people of at least Rs 10 crore over a period of one year.
“The case was a rare one in the sense that we made the arrests based on information about the scam, as opposed to the usual practice of making arrests after we receive a formal complaint. We need to make more such information-based arrests, which will act as a preventive as well as a deterrent,” the officer added.
EOW officers are discussing the finer points of the move, and will soon launch awareness campaigns on social media, and will encourage interaction from people, said officials.