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Tips to Dodge Online Job Scams! Mumbai Student Duped

Rising Threat of Work-From-Home Scams

The surge in Work-from-Home opportunities has provided a fertile ground for both legitimate work and fraudulent schemes. In yet another unfortunate incident, two scammers were arrested on Friday for defrauding a 19-year-old student in Mumbai, duping him of ₹2.45 lakh under the guise of an online job.

The Modus Operandi of Work-From-Home Scam

Matunga Police revealed that the scam typically initiates with scammers posing as representatives from reputable companies. The victim, a student from Veermata Jijabai Technological Institute (VJTI) in Mumbai, received an enticing text message offering a part-time online job opportunity on October 28, 2023, while residing in his hostel.

Upon responding, the student was added to a Telegram group to verify the authenticity, where the fraudsters continued to build trust through sweet-talking, as disclosed by the police.

As the trust between the scammers and the student grew, they cunningly instructed him to deposit money into various accounts and perform tasks, ultimately leading to a request for investment. The promise of lucrative returns served as the bait, resulting in the student’s loss of ₹2.45 lakh.

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Scammers Apprehended

Speaking to True to Life on December 30, a Matunga Police official stated, “Acting on the complaint, our team successfully arrested two criminals with expertise in cyber tools and techniques.”

The official added, “We traced the culprits by investigating the bank accounts that had received the illicit deposits.”

The police seized 33 debit/credit cards, 32 chequebooks from diverse banking institutions, six mobile devices, and 28 SIM cards from the two arrested individuals from Gujarat, identified as Rupesh Thakkar and Pankajbhai Gordhanbhai.

The financial transactions revealed alarming figures, totaling ₹60 crore within three months. Consequently, the police froze ₹1.1 crore in these accounts. The accused parties have been formally charged under Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC), with offenses related to deception, in conjunction with pertinent provisions of the Information Technology Act.

Precautions and Tips

In an interview with True to Life, the investigating team of Matunga Police Station Cyber Crime branch, led by Police Inspector Deepak Chavan, shared insights into the investigation and offered crucial measures to protect against such frauds.

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Police personnel in the team, Santosh Pawar, emphasized, “Due to increased unemployment since the pandemic, many small start-ups and advertisements of work-from-home play as bait for either an authentic approach or sometimes dreadful scams.”

He further advised, “Citizens must always ask for the authentication of any approached firm and legal certification prior.”

Awareness campaigns and educational initiatives must equip individuals, especially students, with the necessary knowledge and skills to identify and evade such scams.

Furthermore, there is an urgent appeal to banking institutions and online platforms to enhance their security measures and implement robust mechanisms to prevent cyber fraud on innocent victims.

By Gaurav Patil and Sanjana Shelar Reporting for True to Life from Mumbai

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