2 held for duping people on pretext of providing slots for COVID vaccination

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New Delhi, May 21 (PTI) Two men have been arrested for allegedly creating a fake government website and duping people on the pretext of getting them slots for COVID-19 vaccination, police said on Friday.

One of the accused, Shekhar Pariyar, was arrested from Siliguri in West Bengal while another accused, Ashok Singh, was nabbed from Uttarakhand by a team of Delhi Police's Crime Branch, they said.

The police said the duo created a fake website -- https://mohfw[.]xyz/ -- which resembled the official website of the Union Health Ministry and offered COVID-19 vaccine slots for Rs 4,000-6,000.

The fake website was an almost an exact clone of the official website of the Union Health Ministry and had the same layout and colours, including the Government of India emblem, police said.

The website also replicated the content of the official website, including links, documents, and statistics, to deceive people, they said.

Two links pertaining to different banks were also mentioned in the fake website for people to make payments, police said.

A senior police officer said, 'After matter came to our notice, we registered a case against the fake website. It was immediately blocked through concerned service providers.' He said with the help of technical investigation, one of the accused Shekhar Pariyar was arrested from Siliguri. It emerged that transactions worth over Rs 40 lakhs had taken place through his account, police said.

'During interrogation, it emerged that the accused is part of a group of cheats who are using the COVID-19 pandemic to cheat people in the name of vaccine. Based on Pariyar's disclosure, Singh was also arrested from Uttarakhand,' the officer said.

The police claimed that at least five such websites and portals have been blocked after they received many complaints on their helpline numbers and social media, alleging that they had been duped on in the name of getting vaccine slots.

Taking to Twitter, the Delhi Police also alerted people to take due precaution while registering for vaccination slots.

'As we take precaution against #Covid so we must take against #CovidFraud. #Fake vaccination sites found duping ppl.

'#DelhiPolice urges dont click on fake sites, links. Protect ur money & data. Only log in thru cowin.gov.in or CoWin/ArogyaSetApp #StayAlertStaySafe,' it tweeted. PTI AMP TDS TDS

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