Rising online fraud spurs FIA into action

Victims trapped through false promises of marriage

Talib Fareedi July 12, 2021


The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) is investigating dozens of cases in which men were defrauded of millions of rupees by women who contacted them through the social media and online messaging services.

The complainants, including several from the provincial capital, informed the FIA Cybercrime Wing that they were lured through WhatsApp, Facebook, Instagram and Messenger.

According to FIA officials, the complaints received by the wing in Lahore had revealed that educated people, including businessmen and government employees were among the victims, some of whom had lost large amounts.

The FIA received complaints from Lahore, Sahiwal and other cities of the province that the complainants had been contacted by women through online services and lured into transferring money to their accounts.

Giving an example, the sources said that some of the women had claimed that their fathers held senior positions in various multinational companies in Libya, United Arab Emirates and other countries and they had died during the civil war in Libya.

In one case, the woman said her father's dues amounting to over $4 million were in his bank account, but according to the local law, the money would be given to the daughter when she got married.

"So I am looking for a man who will marry me and help me get this money from the bank," a complainant quoted as being told.

He said he was promised settlement in the United States after the marriage.

He said the suspect kept in touch with him and shared fake documents showing her late father's high income, company documents and fake Facebook and company IDs. "She also sent me her photographs and video clips."

After developing a friendship, she informed the man that she would visit Pakistan for resolving the issue and marriage. She then started demanding v money for the preparation of documents and her visit, the alleged victim I formed the investigators.

The sources said the scammers used IDs, photographs and video clips of women as well as forged documents to lure the victims into transferring to their online accounts.

The amounts lost in the cases ranged from Rs400,000 to Rs1 million, the added. The suspects severed contact with the victims after receiving the money.

According to Anjum Ashraf, a woman from the US befriended him on Facebook and gave an impression that he could get the country's nationality by marrying her.

She then demanded money for visa processing, saying that she would return it when he would arrive in the US. The complainant said he had spent millions of rupees for becoming a US national.

FIA sources believe that those involved in such fraud had a network in Pakistan because the accounts through which the money was transferred were based in the country.

The said some people earned commission on use of accounts opened by them in the names of new firms that were closed after the fraud. The sources said those earning through the social media were also offered a share for the use of their accounts for transactions in such cases.

FIA Cybercrime Wing Director Babar Bakht Qureshi said while speaking to The Express Tribune that several similar complaints had been received and action was being taken on them in accordance with the law.

However, he said people also needed to be careful while making friends to avoid such fraud.


Published in The Express Tribune, July 12th, 2021.


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