Farmer takes on cybercriminal, recovers lakhs lost in fraud


Pawan Kumar Soni, 55, is a farmer based in Sri Ganganagar City Rajasthan, fell victim to cyber fraud when his 26-year-old son Harsh Vardhan opened a link from a phishing message flashed on his mobile phone. Within minutes, more than Rs 8 lakh was debited from his account in four different transactions.

Vardhan, who lives in Dwarka Delhihad registered his phone number with his father’s account at State Bank of India branch in Sri Ganganagar City.

The message, delivered to his cellphone around 3:45pm on Saturday, January 7, read: “Your account has been blocked, please update your KYC.”

Harsh already had a YONO application, but the moment he clicked on the link, another duplicate app was downloaded on his phone.

“I thought I need to update my KYC on this new app so I entered my user ID and password. Suddenly I started receiving messages for withdrawing money from my father’s account and in seven minutes we were up Rs 8 03,899 lost,’ Vardan said.

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He later realized that using the duplicate app, his phone had been hacked and the username and password he had entered could be accessed by a cyberfraud elsewhere.

The swindled money was a loan taken out by his father under Kisan Credit Card Scheme for agricultural purposes.

Vardhan called his father in Ganganagar City, who rushed to the bank to inform the manager. Vardhan went to the District Cyber ​​Cell in Dwarka where he was asked to file an online complaint and visit the office on any working day.

At his father’s request, the bank manager acted quickly and called the local cyber cell. The manager also sent an email to financial institutions to block those accounts where the money had been transferred.

Soni said, “The manager informed me that money was transferred from my account to three accounts – Rs 5 lakh and 1.24 lakh went to PayU, 1,54,899 was transferred to CCAvenue and the rest Rs 25,000 went to Axis Bank.”

Both PayU and CCAvenue are digital payment companies that act as a bridge between customers and business ventures. They collect payments from buyers when they make purchases online and deposit them into merchants’ bank accounts.

“The bank manager informed me that PayU had returned to his email and said it had withheld the money. He also said that if it does not receive an email from the cybercrime department within two days for the reversal of the amount, it will the money in the merchant’s account,” Soni claimed.

CCAvenue said it also responded to the cyber officials and provided all information on Jan. 7 when the company became aware of the said fraud.

On the other hand, his son Vardhan filed an online complaint and two days later on Monday went to file an FIR which was denied.

“Then I met with the additional DCP who instructed the SHO to file an FIR. It was finally filed on January 10, three days after the fraud happened,” he said.

Vardhan then requested the Dwarka Cyber ​​Cell to send PayU an email asking him to transfer the money back to his father’s account. “Police personnel just made empty promises and did nothing,” Vardhan claimed.

His father then approached the Ganganagar City cyber cell. They wrote to PayU and he got 6,24,000 money back in his account.

But Soni was adamant about following the money trail in Axis Bank and CCAvenue.

“At my request, the friends of my relatives who are digital finance professionals tracked it and found that 25,000 going to Axis bank were taken from an ATM in Kolkata,” Soni said.

“Another Rs 1,54,899, which was transferred to CCAvenue, Rs 1,20,000 of that money was used by the fraudster to buy some stuff from a Jio store in Kolkata,” Soni said, adding he spoke to the involved police station in Kolkata but they said they will not do anything unless they get it in writing from Delhi Police.

He claimed that during all this time he and his son kept telling Dwarka’s cyber cell to write to Axis Bank, CCAvenue and Kolkata Police, but they kept stopping him and did not do it until 23 January which was too late.

“I also tracked down his name and address,” Soni said, alleging that such fraudsters register themselves as merchants with digital payment companies that do not do proper due diligence when checking their KYC.

“If I can find the money trail, why can’t the police? They can do it faster and easier,” Soni said.

Deputy Commissioner of Police (DCP), Dwarka, Harsha Vardhan told PTI that Delhi Police regularly receives a large number of complaints on the ICMS (Integrated Complaint Management System) portal.

“We process them and request details from the authorities/institutions involved. In this case, the complaint was received on January 9 in the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) and FIR was registered on January 10. Account details were requested from the bank. Emails were sent after receiving the details. There is always room for improvement and getting things done faster, but we also face delays from banks in getting details,” said Harsha Vardhan.

Fintech experts say that since the end customer is the hardest hit victim of phishing scams, it is natural to expect them to be more vigilant, but the payment networks and banks also have a big responsibility by not allowing such accounts to operate.

“By applying strict KYC procedures, financial institutions can quickly identify fraudulent funds and keep the funds on their side,” said Satyam Kumar, a former banker who heads a digital NBFC, LoanTap.

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