While India is currently battling the deadly coronavirus, an online covid donation scam leech has come up to suck the common man’s blood. Recently, a 49-year old man named Manish (name changed) got duped by an online covid donation scamster. Manish got a friend request from a foreigner on facebook and quickly accepted it. They started chatting and exchanged their numbers. And in no time, they became friends and started chatting regularly. One day, the foreigner told Manish that he owns a firm which donates money to the covid sufferers. When the foreigner offered Manish money, he quickly accepted it. However, there was a catch. The foreigner told Manish, that he will have to pay the Customs Duty worth Rs 70,000 to get the covid donation. Without much ado, Manish transferred the money to the designated account. But as soon as he did so, his foreigner friend disappeared. Manish couldn’t believe that he had been robbed blind in a matter of minutes.
Most of the people falling victim to such online covid donation scam are the ones between the ages 45-65 years. The method opted by such online covid donation scamsters is the same; a facebook friend request. A lot of these scamsters were posing to be beautiful women, eager to befriend their latest victim. In the past month, the Customs has received over a 100 calls of victims of such covid donation scams.
In a lot of the cases, the victim is told that they’ll receive a gift or donation worth lakhs. And all they have to do is pay Customs Duty and pick up the gift from the airport.
A Customs official stated, “In most cases, they have asked the victims to pay Rs 35,000 to Rs 70,000 as Customs Duty. In some cases, people have been duped of an amount as high as Rs 1.5 lakhs. Once the person transfers the money into the given account, it is immediately transferred into a different account so that a dispute can’t be raised.”
In some of the cases, the fraudsters have even cited the names of Chief Justice of India, Finance Minister and Delhi Customs Chief Commissioner, Alok Tewari.
The Chief Commissioner Delhi Customs, Alok Tewari says, “People should remain aware of such fraudsters and verify any demands made in the name Indian Customs from details of officers provided on the Delhi Customs Zone website. Also, Document Identification Number (DIN) verification facility provided on CBIC website should be used to differentiate between genuine communication and frauds.”
Furthermore, the Delhi Customs department has already filed complaints with the local police to take action against such fraudsters. Moreover, the department has urged people to beware of such online covid donation scams and report any unusual activity to the cyber-crime department.