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Instagram ‘friend’ promises iPhone and 20,000 pounds as gift, dupes Mumbai woman of over Rs 4 lakh

According to Mumbai Police data, 67 such cyber frauds have occurred this year in which three persons have been arrested.

A FIR was filed at the Powai police station on December 5 in which the complainant told the police that she accepted a friend request from one ‘David Lucas’ on November 23. (Representational)
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A 33-year-old woman has recently fallen prey to cybercrime, termed “gift fraud” by Mumbai police, where a fraudster impersonating a foreign national befriended her on Instagram and said he was sending her an iPhone and 20,000 pounds in cash as a gift, police said Tuesday. He and his aides duped her of Rs 4.15 lakh as processing fees and other miscellaneous charges to get the gift, they said.

A First Information Report (FIR) was filed at the Powai police station on December 5 in which the complainant, who works for a data and research service company, told the police that she accepted a friend request from one ‘David Lucas’ having an Instagram handle “captain.david_38” on November 23.

She told police that they became “friends” after which they started speaking over the phone on WhatsApp. “As the man was using an international number, the woman believed that he was calling from a foreign country. After a week, the complainant received a WhatsApp call around 10 am where the “friend” told her that he had sent her an iPhone and 20,000 pounds in cash as a gift,” police said.

An hour later she received a WhatsApp message from another person who said he is calling from the courier service and she will have to pay Rs 20,000 as courier charges. The woman told the police that she thought it to be genuine and made the payment. However, she kept getting calls for more money.

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“The fraudster asked for another Rs 68,000 because the parcel contained 20,000 pounds. The woman paid Rs 50,000 but the fraudsters kept making her pay more money saying she needed to pay tax, and that they would convert the money from pounds to rupees. She was told that Rs 20 lakh was sent to her account and she needs to pay a processing fee of Rs 1 lakh,” said a police officer.

The woman said in her complaint that she called ‘David’ and told him that she did not want the gift and asked him to return the money. “But under David’s persuasion, she ended up paying a total of Rs 4.15 lakh but did not receive the gift. She grew suspicious when she came to know that David had blocked all communication with her. The woman realised that she was being duped when the fraudster contacted her a few days later asking for more money,” the officer said.

According to Mumbai Police data on cyber crimes, 67 such gift/customs frauds have occurred this year in which two were detected and three persons were arrested. Last year, 50 such frauds took place in which five were detected and 10 persons were arrested.

First published on: 06-12-2022 at 19:10 IST
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