Duping patrons throughout India by posing as military officers on OLX: TN cops crack rip-off


In response to investigating officers, a minimum of 10 villages in Rajasthan are engaged in scamming patrons on OLX by claiming to be military personnel.

Within the final week of February, a seven-member crew of the Tamil Nadu police landed in a distant village in Rajasthan, known as Barathpur, looking for unknown criminals who have been chargeable for a country-wide rip-off carried out on OLX, a classifieds market. Little did they know that 10 villages within the space have been in on the rip-off that has duped 1000’s of unassuming patrons throughout the nation.

The search that led the TN police on the two,000 km chase to the western nook of the nation was in truth the fruits of a collection of complaints acquired over a interval of three months. Reportedly, 14 instances from completely different elements of Chennai have been made on these unknown scammers who have been luring potential patrons with compelling provides on second-hand vehicles and two-wheelers with pretend id proofs. In all instances, the scammers usual themselves into military personnel desirous to dispose of their car on account of a long-distance switch.

Whereas their detailed modus operandi in itself is fascinating, the operation executed by the TN police is nothing wanting a Tamil movie script; Dheeran Adhigaram Ondru involves thoughts. 

The strategy of operation

On January 3, Central Crime Department acquired a grievance from a Chennai resident Suresh (identify modified) who had lately misplaced a big sum of money on a deal that was presupposed to carry house a military personnel’s used bike. Quickly after Suresh wired the quantity, he was unable to achieve the vendor. Shocked and dissatisfied, Suresh filed a police grievance – nevertheless, he was neither the primary nor the final to have fallen sufferer to those scamsters.

Chatting with TNM, a police officer who was concerned within the operation explains, “They put up advertisements for vehicles, telephones, two-wheelers and so on., with photographs and call numbers. When the customer contacts them, they inform them that they work within the military and are leaving on a switch to Kashmir, desirous to promote the car.”

The scammers supply photos of automobiles off the web, military officers’ id playing cards presumably from photocopying locations and their photographs from social media accounts.

“In addition they have a tendency to supply detailed data from their finish. As soon as they obtain an advance quantity, ranging anyplace between Rs 20,000 and Rs 50,000, on PayTM or any such on-line fee portal, they ship the customer photos of the packed car, able to be couriered. This they supply from the web. Additionally it is potential to seize such photos from the Railway stations. Subsequent they share a manufactured Military Canteen Card to determine extra authenticity, adopted by a counterfeit military courier receipt,” explains the police officer.

“They do all this with the practised consolation of a seasoned scammer,” the police officer says, “There isn’t a likelihood of the customer doubting the id of the vendor at any level. Subsequent, they proceed to ask for extra money within the identify of insurance coverage renewal, courier cost, tax. All this might quantity to a different Rs 50,000 and as soon as they’ve acquired this quantity, anybody can guess what occurs subsequent.” The conmen both block the customer’s quantity on their telephones or discard their SIM altogether, making it unattainable to get in contact with them once more.

Cracking the case

Whereas police groups from Telangana and Karnataka, too, have been looking out for the group of criminals executing such scams on OLX, it was the TN police who have been capable of nab them. Two accused, 36-year-old M Naresh Pal Singh and 26-year-old L Bachchu Singh, have been dropped at Chennai for additional questioning and are being interrogated for additional particulars. Police imagine residents of 10 villages in Bharatpur are well-versed on this modus operandi and additional investigations will make them many others from the area.

The police officer from Chennai tells TNM that the scammers have been cautious of their technique of operation – till Suresh’s case. “Earlier than that, we solely acquired the fee portal particulars that are normally linked to the cellular quantity. With Suresh’s case, we have been capable of get the checking account particulars, main us to the 2.”

Lack of cooperation by Rajasthan police?

It’s not simply the Tamil Nadu police who’ve been on the tail of those scamsters – the Bengaluru police lately arrested 5 males from Rajasthan within the Karnataka capital, who had been operating a rip-off by impersonating the Bengaluru Police Commissioner Bhaskar Rao himself. The Hyderabad cyber crime police receives a minimum of 20 complaints on common day-after-day particularly about on-line dishonest – they lately went on a two-week mission to Kaman city in Rajasthan, however didn’t discover success. The Bengaluru police went to Bharatpur district in Rajasthan across the similar time.

The Hyderabad officers have been in search of an offender who has cheated quite a few individuals within the metropolis of lakhs of rupees. The Bengaluru police together with a superior officer went to Rajasthan to bust a gang which had been dishonest individuals by impersonating none aside from Bengaluru commissioner, Bhaskar Rao.

On February 14, officers headed by Cyber Crime Sub-Inspector Okay Madhusudhan, who handles on-line frauds, reached Kawan. Nonetheless, largely these efforts to arrest the offenders behind the scams are unsuccessful, as police complain lack of coordination from their counterparts within the aforementioned states.

The Hyderabad officer alleges lack of coordination by the native police in Rajasthan and Haryana. “There will not be any lodging obtainable for us. The police there would not prepare for any Fast Response groups in case of any violence in opposition to us,” he says.

In a single explicit case, based mostly on a fraudster’s cellphone location and financial institution transactions, police recognized that he was additionally swindling cash from the e-mitra banks, that are distinctive to Rajasthan, Haryana and another northern states. These banks disburse loans to the farmers within the villages. The Hyderabad Police approached the financial institution supervisor in Kawan and alerted them in regards to the rip-off. The financial institution supervisor assured all potential assist to nab the accused. “However this was a pretence, the financial institution supervisor had additionally colluded with these fraudsters. Our investigation discovered it. The native police could be undoubtedly conscious of this, however they would not disclose this to us fearing retaliation from the offenders.”

In an announcement issued, OLX’s Basic Counsel Lavanya Chandan notes that the platform has developed an algorithm to stop such frauds from occurring. The algorithm will primarily establish advertisements that characteristic extraordinarily low costs, beneath common market charges. With this algorithm in place, OLX claims to have recognized a whole bunch of cellphone numbers and have blocked them. 

“OLX’s position in reference to cyber-crimes is threefold. One, to stop fraudsters from coming into the platform. Second, educating customers on how one can transact safely on the platform. And at last, OLX reacts swiftly to frauds which have taken place the place its Belief and Security helpline offers customers with an efficient means to report fraud and for legislation enforcement companies to expedite their data request to resolve instances earlier than them.”

The right way to keep protected

Whereas the case itself is with none doubt the near-perfect con, the Tamil Nadu police are assured individuals can outsmart the scamsters simply by staying somewhat cautious.

“It’s the duty of patrons to be cautious throughout such transactions. If we need to purchase a second hand two-wheeler from a bodily store, we’d go personally to go to the vendor, verify paperwork, its authenticity and likewise be sure the vendor is real. It’s only after this that cash will even alternate arms,” says the official. Police level out that these precautions should apply to the web world as nicely.

“You shouldn’t pay the cash until you obtain the product in your hand. If it’s a native vendor, go see the product in particular person. If it’s a car, make them carry it to a public place on your personal security,” he says.

“Most significantly verify for the documentation and particulars of the earlier proprietor. There are probabilities of the car being stolen property. Promoting or shopping for an merchandise with out verifying it in particular person must be prevented in any respect prices,” he insists.

Referring to incidents of violence during which the customer has been bodily assaulted and mugged, the officer provides, “Don’t go to any lonely places and by no means go alone.”

Related precautions must be in place for a vendor. “There have been instances when the customer provides to purchase an merchandise, they share a QR code within the pretext of transferring funds. When the vendor scans the code, they discover out that their checking account has been drained.”

OLX advisory –

By no means make any advance funds. Pay solely when you will have acquired and examined the product in hand.

Train warning when putting any reliance on identification playing cards particularly from people pretending to be armed forces personnel because it may very well be pretend.

You may select to not share your quantity publicly on the OLX app by hiding your quantity within the privateness part whereas posting an advert.

When accepting funds through UPI apps and digital wallets make sure that it’s a credit score request to deposit cash into your account and never a request to debit cash out of your account. If the UPI request asks you to enter your pin, then chorus from doing so and report the account instantly to OLX.

By no means click on on any suspicious hyperlinks from unknown third events soliciting funds. 

At all times meet patrons and sellers in a public place located in a well-lit space.

Maintain your interactions with the customer and vendor on the app as a substitute of Whatsapp or every other chat platforms. 




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