Noida: The Uttar Pradesh Police has initiated an investigation following an incident where a Noida resident fell victim to a new cyber fraud trend, resulting in a loss of over ₹11 lakh, and subjected to a "digital arrest" for a day, officials stated on Saturday. This marks the first case of "digital arrest fraud" reported at the Cyber Crime police station in Noida. The perpetrators posed as police officials, invoking the names of an IPS officer in the CBI and the founder of a defunct airline, falsely implicating the 50-year-old victim in an imaginary money-laundering case.
A similar incident was recently reported in Haryana's Faridabad, where cybercriminals, impersonating police personnel, subjected a woman to a "digital arrest" for over a week. They convinced her that her personal IDs were used for illicit activities, instructing her to stay online via Skype and not disclose this information to anyone while monitoring her throughout the period.
In her complaint, the Noida resident stated that she received an IVR (interactive voice response) call on November 13, informing her that a mobile phone SIM card was purchased in Mumbai using her Aadhaar card for illegal advertising and harassment of women.
"The call was then transferred to an individual (claiming to be a Mumbai Police officer) who conducted the initial interrogation over the call and later on Skype VC. He informed me of another allegation of money laundering related to (the founder of an airline), for which an FIR has been filed against me, and an arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court," the woman explained.
"After the interrogation, he stated that I am innocent and not guilty. He transferred the investigation to an IPS officer with the CBI, Mumbai, for further inquiry. He provided the Skype ID and instructed me to request the CBI officer for a priority investigation on VC to lift my arrest warrant," she added.
The CBI officer claimed that during the investigation of the airline founder, 246 debit cards were found, one of which had the victim's name and was used to open a bank account with her Aadhaar card.
"He mentioned that my account was used for a fund transfer of ₹2 crore, of which I received ₹20 lakh. However, he indicated that I am not implicated in the case. To complete the investigation, he instructed me to transfer funds from all my accounts to my ICICI account and subsequently transfer the funds from the ICICI account to the PFC account as per the Supreme Court's directives...," she said.
The woman alleged that she was warned not to disclose this information due to "national security" and potential consequences. "To prove my innocence, he asked me to maintain sufficient balance in my accounts. He also advised me to apply for a personal instant loan of ₹20 lakh from ICICI, providing details on how to apply. Despite my refusal, he pressured me to arrange ₹3 lakh more through the same means, and under duress, I applied, which was also transferred to the PFC account," she claimed.
"They also captured a picture of my signature on Skype under the pretext of validating my Aadhaar card for investigation," she added.
The victim reported the incident to the Uttar Pradesh Police's Cyber Crime officials, alleging a fraud of ₹11.11 lakh and a "digital arrest" lasting from morning to night.
Inspector Reeta Yadav, in-charge of the Cyber Crime police station in Noida Sector 36, confirmed the filing of an FIR under the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and Indian Penal Code (IPC). "An investigation into the case is underway," she stated.
Ms. Yadav urged the public to exercise caution regarding emerging online crimes, advising them to promptly contact the police through the central helpline number 1930, emergency number 112, or report such activities to the cyber desk of local police stations.
"People should also be aware that the police never question anyone digitally. If someone threatens you in this manner, request a proper notice, ask for their details, and inform them that you are going to the police station to meet them," Ms. Yadav emphasized.