AN ENGINEER lost over Rs 2 lakh while attempting to befriend an alleged Spanish woman based in London, who had sent him a Facebook friend request. The fraudsters did everything from sending staged photographs to tinkering with a caller ID app to ensure that the 36-year-old did not once suspect he was being cheated. The Andheri police has registered an FIR in the matter.
The engineer, who did not wish to be named, said that in August last year, he received a friend request on his Facebook account from the woman. She told him that she was based in London and travelled to Spain over the weekend. The duo exchanged telephone numbers.
The engineer said they started casually chatting over WhatsApp. Sometime later, the woman said she would come to India. "In mid-December, she told me she was coming to the city and sent me photographs of her flight tickets. She said she has got several gifts for me and sent photographs. She also sent me a photo of her with the airhostess. There was nothing to doubt," the man said.
"The day she was to arrive, I received a phone call from caller ID 'Custom officer Delhi Airport'. When I answered, the caller claimed to be a custom officer and said the Spanish woman had reached the airport but her credit card is yet to be enabled for international use. He told me that since I was the only person she knew in India, they called me," he added.
Eventually, the complainant ended up paying Rs 2.08 lakh under various guises - from custom duty to certificate for the "pound currency she was carrying".
"When they kept asking for more money, I started feeling that this was a scam. Soon after, the woman stopped responding and I realised that I had made the biggest mistake of my life," the engineer said.
He approached a relative in the police and later, got a case registered with Andheri police in December last week on charges of cheating under IPC and the Information Technology Act.
A police officer said, "Usually, a Nigerian gang is involved in such cases. They send out blanket friend requests on Facebook and cheat people who respond."
This modus operandi is usually used by fraudsters on matrimonial sites, where they create profiles posing as successful people based abroad. In the past, apart from Nigerian nationals, the police have also found some Indians helping them cheat people.