Beware! Cheats everywhere online

Victims of strangers met on social networking platforms on the rise

By Author  |  Published: 15th Sep 2018  12:29 am

Hyderabad: Are you sure with whom you are chatting, be it on WhatsApp, Instagram or any other messaging platform and social networking sites?

Double checking the credentials of a stranger, who slowly gets friendly and then close just like any other known friend, can be a good idea, particularly in the context of several people being cheated by such strangers-turned-friends-turned-dangers.

According to S Harinath, Assistant Commissioner of Police (Cybercrime, Rachakonda), social platforms such as WhatsApp, Instagram and others had become thriving hubs for fraudsters.

They randomly pick up numbers, either from WhatsApp groups or from social networks and get connected. The first move could be through what appears to be a call to a wrong number, apology and then slowly, step by step, they make a friendship bloom. And all through this, they will be the epitome of decency or whatever makes the victim gain confidence in them.

The trap is then laid. In the case of girls, as in several recent cases, the fraudster, who might be operating on a fake name and entirely cooked up personal profile, collects personal pictures of the target, and either by morphing or other means, begins blackmailing the victim for money. In yet another modus operandi, the crook, after getting close, suddenly goes incommunicado for a few days.

Later, when the crook returns online, the targeted victim asks what happened. The crook then cooks up a sob story, probably about a close relative or himself meeting with an accident and being in dire need of money. The trap is laid in such a way that it could be the victim persuading him to take financial help from her. And then, an account number which is not registered on their name is sent. Once the money is transferred, he disappears.

“Such fraudsters generally target students, single people, widows and widowers who are in need of company and people whose trust can be won without much difficulty. By the time, they realise they are cheated, it’s too late,” officials said.