In several recent incidents, fraudsters have posed as police officers and threatened people with ‘digital arrest’ over video calls and demanded money. Here’s how to protect yourself from them.
Read in English: How to stay safe from Skype scams in which scammers impersonate police officers
It was a typical day for a Mumbai woman named Kinjal Shah. Then he received an automated phone call. In which his contact number will be deactivated within two hours. The phone call instructed him to follow the simple steps to file a complaint by pressing ‘9’ and speaking to a help desk manager.
He was then asked to participate in a video call to give a statement to the FIR registered against him. When he asked for the reason for the complaint, he was told that someone was sending illegal messages to some people from his alternate number – he never bought or used another mobile number.
Kinjal eventually realizes that he has been duped by a fraudster posing as a police officer. However, his complaint is one of a number of Skype ‘virtual badge’ scams reported recently. Approach the suspect by pretending to be a police officer or other law enforcement officer and tell him that he is in trouble for a crime. Here’s how such scams work and what you should keep in mind to protect yourself from them.
What are some suspicious symptoms?
In Kinchal’s case, the scammer was on the phone with him for over two hours. This has raised suspicions, as no police officer is likely to talk to the accused in an online video call for a long time.
And when he offered to go to the nearest police station to file a complaint on the said charges, the scammer immediately told him not to. Instead, he was asked to give an immediate statement via video call. The scammer insisted on staying on the video. He asked him to take a video to make sure no one was around him while he was making the statement. He also became suspicious as no female official was involved in the investigation against him.
When this conversation became suspicious to him, Kinjal started recording this conversation. A man claiming to be a police officer attempted to carry out a “digital arrest”. When asked to share his Aadhaar and PAN card details with him, Kinjal hung up.
How to protect yourself from scams?
Such scams are carried out in two general ways. First, fraudsters pose as representatives of a courier service and claim that the package they have contains illegal items. The target of the fraud was allegedly charged in the incident.
In another method, fraudsters masquerade as local police and present a fictitious list of cases against targeted individuals.
Things to keep in mind:
1. Ask for ‘Notification’ first
If you ever receive such a call and the police require your virtual or physical presence, you can apply for a ‘Notice to Appear’. Under Section 41A of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), any police officer can issue a notice requiring the attendance of any person and his arrest is not substantively necessary.
2. Law enforcement agencies generally do not conduct video calls
Video calls by police officers are not common practice. If someone calls you in the name of a police officer or claims to be from the police station, it is absolutely best not to answer the call.
3. Interrogation of the policewoman
The woman is always questioned in the presence of a police officer. If you are a woman taking a video call and there is no woman on the other end, hang up immediately.
4. Protect personal data
Avoid sharing personal or sensitive information during Skype calls. Be careful when disclosing passwords, financial information, any confidential information or payment details.
5. Take a screenshot on your mobile phone or record your screen
If you receive a Skype call on your cell phone from someone claiming to be a police officer, take a screenshot. Or take a screenshot on your mobile phone. If you are a victim of fraud, you need to make sure you have enough evidence to file a complaint.
6. Trust your instincts
If something feels off or doesn’t feel right, trust your instincts and proceed with caution. If in doubt, don’t be afraid to hang up or get help.
7. Go to the nearest police station and file a complaint
If you feel that you are a victim of such scams, do not hesitate to visit the nearest police station and file a complaint.
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