New cyber crime: Noida logs first case of ‘digital arrest’, woman duped of over Rs. 11 lakh

The Uttar Pradesh Police has launched an investigation after a Noida resident found herself at the receiving end of a new cyber fraud trend, wherein she was duped of more than ₹11 lakh and held under “digital arrest” for a day, officials said on Saturday.

This is the first case in the new trend of “digital arrest fraud” lodged at the Cyber Crime police station in Noida. The thugs posed as police officials who mentioned the names of an IPS officer in the CBI and the founder of a grounded airline, associating the 50-year-old victim in a fictitious money-laundering case.

A similar case was recently reported in Haryana’s Faridabad where cyber thugs, posing as police personnel, got a woman “digitally arrested” for more than a week after convincing her that her personal IDs were used for illegal activities. The thugs then asked her to stay online via Skype and not share this information with anyone even as they kept a watch on her throughout the period.

In her complaint, the Noida-based woman has claimed that she was contacted over an IVR (interactive voice response) call on November 13 and told that a mobile phone SIM card was purchased using her Aadhaar card in Mumbai and used for illegal advertising and harassment of women.

“Then my call was transferred to a person (who identified himself as a Mumbai Police officer) who did the initial interrogation over the call and then on Skype VC. Then he informed that I have another allegation of money laundering related to (the founder of an airline) for which an FIR has been registered against me and an arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court for which he sent documents on Skype,” the woman has said.

“After the interrogation, he said I am innocent and not guilty, so he is transferring the interrogation (to an IPS officer posted with the CBI, Mumbai) for further investigation of this case. Then he gave the Skype ID and asked me to request the CBI officer to do the priority investigation on VC to remove my arrest warrant,” she has said in her complaint.

The said CBI officer told her that during the investigation of the airline founder, police found 246 debit cards from his house and one of those had the victim’s name on it, which was used to open a bank account with her Aadhaar card.

“He then said my account was used for a fund transfer of ₹2 crore for which I have been paid ₹20 lakh. However, he said I do not look to be involved in this case, so to complete the investigation, I need to transfer funds from all my accounts to my ICICI account and subsequently, transfer the funds from the ICICI account to the PFC account as per the directives of the Supreme Court…,” she said.

The woman has claimed that she was told not to disclose this information as it was related to “national security and will make me liable for further action”.

“Also, to prove not guilty of the crime, he asked me to keep sufficient balance in my accounts for which he also advised to apply for a personal instant loan of ₹20 lakh from ICICI and gave the details of how to apply for the same, which I denied but he forced me to arrange ₹3 lakh more through the same and after much pressure, I had applied for the same, which is also transferred to the PFC account,” she said.

“They also took a picture of my signature on Skype on the pretext of validating my Aadhaar card for investigation,” she has alleged.

The woman reported the matter to the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Cyber Crime officials and alleged a fraud of ₹11.11 lakh with her, besides being “digitally arrested” from morning to night.

Inspector Reeta Yadav, in-charge of the Cyber Crime police station in Noida Sector 36, said an FIR has been lodged under the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code (IPC).

“An investigation into the case is underway,” she told PTI.

The officer urged people to be cautious of emerging online crimes and reach out to police at the earliest either on the central helpline number 1930 or emergency number 112 or report such activities to the cyber desk of local police stations.

“People should also know that police never question any person digitally. If someone threatens you like this, ask them to send you a proper notice, ask for their details and tell them that you are coming to the police station to meet them,” Yadav said.

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