Even with increased awareness about online scams, criminals are winning by finding newer ways to target unsuspecting users
From email frauds to social media crimes, banking frauds, lottery scams, gift card frauds, fake government website frauds, job frauds, KYC frauds and various other scams, cyber criminals never miss an opportunity to dupe people. They continue to evolve their modus operandi, which makes it harder for people to avoid them.
In yet another example of how ingenious cyber criminals can be, more than 1,000 people have been duped via a fake website of Ola Electric. The scam came to light after an FIR was filed with the cybercrime police. Around 20 people have been held and further investigations are underway. It’s not certain if the people who were duped will be getting back all their money. Cyber criminals usually siphon off the loot through cash transactions and other hard-to-trace channels.
Ola electric scooter scam
As per initial investigation, it has been revealed that the scam was initiated by two individuals in Bengaluru. The alleged scamsters had created a fake website of Ola Electric to dupe people who were looking to book their Ola electric scooter. The person who has filed an FIR said that he got duped while looking to book his scooter. He had used Ola app, but since it did not have a finance option, he started searching for other options on the internet.
This is when he came across the fake website and entered his details like name and mobile number. It is alleged that as soon as the personal details were made available, it was shared with other gang members operating from Bihar and Telangana. Subsequently, the victim received a call and was asked to pay Rs 499 for booking the scooter. Assuming it was genuine, the victim paid the amount via PayU app.
Next day, he received an email that listed all available finance options. The complainant chose Ola Money, whereupon a payment link was generated on WhatsApp. As per the finance plan, the complainant paid Rs 30,000 as down payment. His sanctioned loan amount was displayed as Rs 72,000. This was apparently a ruse to make everything look genuine.
Further, the complainant was asked to pay Rs 13,000 in delivery charges. He was promised that the scooter will be dispatched on the same day if he paid Rs 13,000. Eventually, things started to look suspicious. After realizing what had happened, the complainant approached the cybercrime cell to register the FIR.
More than 1000 people duped
It is estimated that more than 1000 people have been duped of various amounts. The scam could be easily running into several hundred crores. Acting on the complaint, the cybercrime cell raided the call centre that was operating from Patna. More than 60 mobile phones, 114 SIM cards and 7 laptops have been seized. Cops have also traced 25 bank accounts with transactions of more than Rs 5 crore.
This scam yet again highlights the need to be cautious when making online transactions. Users should always make payments on the company’s official website or app. Companies don’t usually ask customers to make payments via other channels. We hope the victims will be able to get their money back soon.