Hyderabad: e-commerce portals are turning out to be the latest hunting grounds for fraudsters, if the number of complaints from victims on such platforms is any indication.
Sample this. The number of complaints received by the Cyberabad Police from the people cheated by fraudsters misusing a popular Amsterdam-based online shopping platform, which offers free classifieds and encourages people to buy and sell for free, in 2018 was 201. In 2019, this shot up to 1,309. In the Hyderabad Commissionerate limits, there were 350 complaints from victims of fraudsters on the same portal in 2018, and in 2019, this went up to 1,642. In Rachakonda Commissionerate limits, the figures were 200 in 2018 and 887 in 2019.
In 2019 alone, victims on this portal were swindled of Rs 4.3 crore in Cyberabad, Rs 5.2 crore in Hyderabad and Rs 3.7 crore in Rachakonda limits.
According to officials, despite initiating several remedial measures, cybercrooks are posting fake advertisements in the name of selling motorcycles, cars and other items on the platform. “When a customer shows interest to buy an item posted by the fraudster, they make them believe that they are working in the Indian Army and that they got transferred which was why they were selling the item at a low price,” said an official from Cyberabad, adding that the fraudster would ask the victim to transfer money into an e-wallet or bank account and then cheat them without selling them anything.
To prevent such frauds, officials in the three police commissionerates are trying to create awareness among citizens apart from arresting fraudsters.
“Cyber teams are distributing pamphlets, posting advertisements in movie theatres and releasing the details of arrests to print and electronic media at regular intervals,” the official said. The problem, an official pointed out, was that there was no proper verification of the genuineness of sellers posting ads on the portal, which was why citizens had to be cautious when buying items on such portals.
“Verify the product posted on the portal physically before transferring any amount to the seller and do not believe anyone claiming to be an Army personnel or such stories,” an official said. “Ask for original documents or bills of the products you intend to purchase before paying any amount and never scan the QR codes sent by sellers for transferring money,” police said.