Cybercrime police warn public of ‘currency gift’ fraud

A 31-year-old man from Coimbatore recently received a message from a Facebook friend who said she would send him an Easter gift. The friend, who identified herself on the social media platform as an Italian nun, also sent her a receipt saying the gift had been couriered.

A few days later, the youngster received a call from someone who introduced himself as a customs officer working at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport. The person told the youth that the gift addressed to him had arrived at the airport and he had to pay a customs clearance fee of ₹22,500 as the parcel contained 50,000 USD. The youth wired the money to the account mentioned by the appellant for which a customs receipt with seal was issued. The youth was then asked to pay ₹99,000 as a customs clearance fee to receive the foreign currency. He paid the amount.

The youngster became suspicious when he was further asked to pay ₹6 lakh as GST. By the time he realized the fraud, a total of ₹121,500 had been lost. He approached the Coimbatore City Police Cybercrime Station, which had received similar complaints from different people before.

According to the cybercrime station officials, the fraudsters deceived another person from the city of ₹14 lakh using the same modus operandi.

“It all starts with a friend request on Facebook or other social media platforms. If the request is accepted, the scammers study the person’s profile and start chatting. The gift offer is made after winning the trust of the person,” said H. Muthu, deputy inspector of the cybercrime station.

In some cases, the person making the contact on social media pretends to come to India to deliver the gift. Later, the person informs the victim that they got tricked by customs at the airport and asks to pay some money to be released.

Cybercrime Station Inspector Mr. Dhandapani said social media users should be very careful to identify the modus operandi and not fall into the trap.

The website www.cybercrime.gov.in or the toll-free number 1930 can be used to report financial cyber fraud and freeze fraudulent transactions.