SRINAGAR: Time has gone when cybercrime was associated with metropolitan cities only. Now, cyber criminals have started trapping Kashmiris and other charity donors throughout the globe in the name of ‘Kashmir Flood’.
It started on 11:52 AM on 12th January, 2015 when Waseem got a message from +919015611156. “Hi, I’m Melisa and have $8.5 million USD to transfer to you in charity name to help the poor in your place, Kashmir who are affected with Flood. Contact me here: firstname.lastname@example.org”
Waseem joined the guild of those who are everyday cheated by these cyber criminals and fell prey to their luring offer under the veil of ‘Charity’. He instantly responded to SMS and sent email to the above address.
“Within no time, somebody responded very quickly and sent me an email containing long narrative and emotional story of Mrs Melissa Mummoar Gaddafi who is dying in her acute illness and has about $8.5 Million USD which she wants to give in charity ,” recounts Waseem.
Waseem is a marketing manager with one of the leading marketing companies of India and lives in Sonwar area of the Srinagar city.
The received mail contained one more email address and a phone number +448712456357 of person named ‘Barister Peter Owens’ who was introduced as Legal caretaker of Mrs Melissa’s Money.
Without giving a time to ponder upon the suspicious happenstance taking place, hurriedly to get the charity money, Waseem called upon the given phone number and the recipient introduced himself as ‘Barister Peter Owens’.
Thus the doors for cyber crime were opened. After that the correspondence was through emails mostly and seldom on phone.
Barrister sent an application regarding information for the transfer of $8.5 Million USD. Waseem received Bank Deposit Certificates of Melissa, an affidavit and transfer attorney certificate of Waseem’s name.
“After the correspondence, Barrister gave me a phone number of standard chartered bank employee namely John Dude who would help me to know about the dollar deposit certificate of Melissa Gaddafi,” narrates Waseem with tears in his eyes.
Barrister Peter Owen told Waseem that he is working hard on the money transfer to his bank account.
They convey Waseem that an executive of Standard Chartered Bank will arrive to India within few days and do the needful with Reserve Bank of India (RBI).
On 19th January, there was a phone call from a number +919213894264 who introduced herself as the employee of RBI. She told Waseem that the foreign executive had arrived in her office (RBI) and now ‘I will guide you for the further proceedings.’
First of all she sent Waseem an account number 505310110002967 of Bank of India on the name of Mohd Nasir Hussain and asked to deposit Rs 25000 for IMF Certificate. After that Mr John Dude gave Waseem another account number of Ajay Sharma 235701501373 in ICICI Bank Dwarka Delhi, in which ‘RBI Madam’ told Waseem to deposit the sum of Rs 86500 as money transfer charges.
Waseem did so in very cool fashion with his eye on the final receiving amount, but never knew that he will land in the other side of the border and will be left ‘piss-poor’.
After he deposited Rs 1, 11,500, and got again an email to deposit Cost of Transfer (COT), he begins to smell rat (finally) and started searching about Melissa Gaddafi on internet and to his very surprise as well as shock he found that it is all fraud and fake.
Finally, Waseem goes to JK Cyber police, SherGari and is about to faint after learning that they can’t even lodge an First Information Report (FIR) as they have not been notified by Cabinet yet as a police station since the formation of the Cell in 2011.
This Cyber cell has become ‘One Man Cell and there is only one technical member, Mr Riyaz Ahmad who is incharge also, though he is assisted by many officers in non-technical branch.
“The biggest irony is that the conflict zone of Kashmir which is very sensitive about presence of militants should have been highly equipped with more advanced equipments, technicians and infrastructure to trace cyber criminals and militants by tracing in Kashmir,” said one Cyber police official, wishing not to be named, adding “government has never been serious about building Full-fledged cyber police station in J&K ever since.”
Waseem had saved Rs 40000 for the education of his children and got Rs 50000 on credit from his friend. He is completely hopeless and dejected now.
The place where presently JK Cyber Cell is operational is completely out of thinking range for most of the Kashmiris to visit and more especially women. This cell is in the building of Special Operations Group (SOG) who are known for the infamous Encounters in Kashmir. People always fear to come there and mostly women can’t think to come there and complaint.
On 16th November, 2011 the then Director General of Police (DGP) had promised to start three cyber police stations from 15th December, 2011 in J&K but more than three years passed and still government is silent on the issue.
“To be frank, it is very very difficult even to trace a person who has duplicated a facebook account with such an infrastructure available here,” said one cyber police official.
The most common cases that are reported here include Lottery cases, social media fake accounts mostly of girls and morphed pictures.
Even many times twitter accounts of politicians have also been hacked here, said one official.
After floods, two types of new cases appeared: credit card misuse and somebody calling people to give their ATM PIN numbers.
Waseem added, “Though I can’t get my money back now but I want other Kashmiris to save their precious money and don’t fall in trap of ‘Charity for Kashmir Flood victims’”.