cyber criminals have a new target. Over the past few months, there has been a rise in the scamming of consumers who file complaints through online forums against companies, service providers for faulty products and services. Cyber criminals, who read up on the online complaints, call up the complainants pretending to be from the company, “pleading them to take the complaint off and ask for a settlement amount.” Within a few hours however, instead of receiving money to the ‘debit card account’, consumers find that more amount has been debited from their account.
Praful Kumar Padhi, 52, had deposited over Rs 2 lakh in an investment club last year. In December last year, he received a cheque for the interest on his investment. The cheque however bounced and he soon learnt that several other investors had also faced a similar problem. “After several complaints, we approached the consumer forum and registered a complaint against the card club, where the money was invested,” Praful’s son Srikant, who works in a shipping company, told The Indian Express.
Soon after registering the complaint mid January, they received a call from the investment club on January 15 that told them that their money would be returned within 24 hours. “They told us to give the debit card number and wait for 24 hours. But instead of receiving money, we lost Rs 25,000, after which we blocked the card. Or else we would have lost much more money,” Shrikant added.
Following this, the harrowed family began to run from the bank to the investment club and the police station. None of them seemed to be of much help.
When we approached the Vinoba Bhave Nagar police station in Kurla, they just told us to give an application. They did not register an FIR. They asked us to approach the bank to claim the amount.
When we approached the bank, we were told that since it was our error they could not do anything about it. “We do not know whose fault it was. It is not our fault as we did not even get or give any One Time Password (OTP), which is normally required to make transactions,” the Kurla resident said.
When contacted, an officer from the VB Nagar police station said that they would have to check the application. He added that normally in such cases the banks refund the amount.
An officer from the cyber police station said that they have recently registered a few cases and it is a new trend where people making online complaints have been defrauded by cyber criminals.
“If you have registered a complaint against a company online and you receive a call from them it seems like the most obvious thing. On top of that if the company is offering a settlement, the aggrieved customer is all the more keen to provide his details and end his agony.”
Last month in a similar case, a Thane resident had lost money after he complained about his car malfunctioning on a consumer forum website.
He soon received a call from ‘the car company’ asking his for bank details so that the money could be refunded to his account. However, like Padhi, he only ended up losing more money.