The Bengaluru police have successfully apprehended eight individuals involved in a deceptive courier scam that targeted unsuspecting citizens, leading to a massive fraud amounting to Rs 1.08 crore. This criminal network, which preyed on individuals by falsely claiming the discovery of illicit substances or materials related to terrorism in parcels sent under their names, was exposed following the victimization of a 58-year-old retired man named Nataraj Rao.
Cracking the Case:
Nataraj Rao became a victim when he received a call on November 10 from someone posing as a Fedex Courier employee. The caller alleged that an incriminating parcel, supposedly sent by Rao’s wife from Mumbai to Thailand, contained illegal items, including four expired passports, 2.35 kg of clothes, two pen drives, a laptop, credit cards, bank documents, and 140 grams of MDMA. Subsequently, another impersonator, claiming to be a DCP of the Mumbai police narcotics cell, informed Rao that his wife was suspected of involvement in money laundering and drug peddling. Falling prey to the elaborate ruse, Rao transferred Rs 1.08 crore to designated accounts for RBI verification before realizing the scam.
Investigation and Arrests:
Police investigations traced the funds to an RBL bank account and physical withdrawals in Davangere, Karnataka. The examination of CCTV footage at the bank revealed the identities of the suspects who had withdrawn a portion of the swindled money. Acting on leads, the Bengaluru North Cen police arrested eight individuals—Wasim N, Habeebullah M, Nizamuddin, Mushraff Khan, Nurullah Khan, Mohammed Umar, Syed Ahmed Moula, and Syed Hussain. The arrests not only led to the recovery of Rs 13.17 lakh in cash but also prompted the freezing of Rs 19 lakh in various linked accounts. The gang, utilizing 11 mobile phones and 148 bank accounts, had been operating a sophisticated operation.
The arrest of these individuals had broader implications, as it unraveled links to 75 cases recorded on the National Cyber Crime Portal (NCRP). Furthermore, two cybercrime cases registered with the North CEN police were successfully solved. The accused, identified as residents of Davangere and Bengaluru, were found to be part of an elaborate network exploiting the vulnerabilities of unsuspecting individuals.
Escalation of Courier Scams:
Regrettably, the case involving Nataraj Rao is not an isolated incident. On November 10, another senior citizen, Debashish Das, fell victim to a similar fraud, losing Rs 1.52 crore. The scam unfolded with a call from an individual posing as a Fedex courier worker, alleging a case against Das in Mumbai. This time, the caller claimed the existence of a courier sent to Taiwan with expired passports, credit cards, and MDMA. A fake Mumbai police officer, Pradeep Sawant, persuaded Das to transfer a staggering sum of Rs 1.52 crore for purported verification.
The menace of courier fraud is on the rise, with at least 250 reported cases in Bengaluru alone this year. In response to the escalating number of cybercrimes, the Bengaluru police have categorized these offenses into four sections, assigning a senior police officer to oversee each category. This strategic approach aims to address the diverse challenges posed by evolving cybercriminal tactics.