Conmen fleece Rs250m from public

They confessed to using latest technology for fraud

Talib Fareedi March 27, 2021


Fraudsters have discovered a new way of ripping people off cash by luring them into believing that they have won expensive cars, watches and smartphones, gadgets and laptops through a lucky draw organized by multinational companies.

Official sources revealed that in Punjab alone approximately Rs250 million were fleeced from citizens through this online fraud during last year. Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Cybercrime Wing received more than 100 applications since 2020 complaining about the aforementioned scam from the province. In this regard, the FIA raided locations on a tip-off in Lahore and Khushab districts and arrested two suspects.

During the investigation, it was found that the fraudsters were equipped with modern technology and are utilising an app ‘Friend search tool for harvesting’ to get access to random WhatsApp numbers of people to send them scamming messages. The Express Tribune has learnt that the swindlers retrieve personal information about their potential victims through social media profiles including their photographs. Then, they use the photograph of the person to develop a hoax link stating the victim has won valuable prizes worth millions of rupees.

As soon as the person opens the link, information regarding the high-end prizes is displayed alongside details of contact to get access to the won rewards. The website also directs them to provide their ID card details and other personal information to get the gift. Tempted by the apparently great offer, victims provide their authentic information to the swindlers who then demand easy money through various mobile cash providing companies.

Also read Man impersonating lawyer arrested in Multan

As soon as the victims give the amount they disappear with the hard earned savings. In the complaints received by the FIA Cybercrime Wing, the fraudsters skillfully showed imported and local cars, and valuable watches worth between Rs5 million to Rs10 million to the persons for a rip off and impersonated executives of different companies. This click bait has deprived scores of people of millions of rupees including gullible women who sold their jewelry in the greed of prizes.

Requesting anonymity a woman told The Express Tribune that she gave away Rs2.2 million to swindlers through branchless banking in hopes of winning a car but ended up being broke instead. FIA officials confirmed that citizens even paid up to Rs15 million to a conman to get hold of the so called won car and expensive watch to no avail. With the increase in the number of online transactions amid pandemic, these swindlers fleeced off millions from gullible public.

The apprehended suspects, Suleiman and Abid, revealed that they had been defrauding citizens for the past three to four years and had accomplices in Lahore, Islamabad, Karachi, Hyderabad, Khushab, Sukkur, Multan, Dera Ghazi Khan and other areas. An FIA spokesman said that while modern technology has provided facilities to the people, some people are using it illegally to rob innocent people. “People should not pay any attention to messages that promise prizes out of the blue nor should they share their personal data with unknown persons including bank account passwords,” he emphasized.

He explained that legally registered companies call prize winners through their offices instead of sending Whatsapp or local cellular network messages. The spokesperson assured that FIA was taking action against all such fraudsters to punish them according to law. “Mobile companies and PTA have also been informed about the illegal SIMs through which these networks are being operated, and they are working to disable such a network to protect citizens,” he added.


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