Police reported on Thursday that 65 people were arrested and bound over after being accused of defrauding over 200 people under the guise of updating their electricity bills.
Police said that the accused duped these people by installing remote access software on their victims’ mobile phones and accessing their OTPs, or one-time passwords.
Recently, it was revealed that certain scammers were randomly sending messages to their recipients, warning them that their connection would be disconnected if their electricity bill was not updated.
The victims called the number provided in the message because they believed it to be legitimate.
They were put in touch with the suspected fraudsters when they dialled the number, and while posing as power inspectors, they were able to obtain their bank account information or download remote access software onto their phones.
The accused transferred funds from the accounts of their victims as soon as the information was revealed.
Police found during their investigation that the same modus operandi was described in more than 200 complaints.
A senior police officer said that in its investigation, police found that the fraud network was spread in several states across the country.
The police formed different teams and conducted raids in more than 22 cities, including Jaipur, Indore, Ludhiana, Jamtara, Karmatand, Kolkata, Gandhinagar, and Surat, arresting the accused, Deputy Commissioner of Police (IFSO) KPS Malhotra said.
Police said that SIM card vendors, account holders, providers, E-Mitra and their associates, and some telephonists were working as part of the gang, police said.
According to an official statement, the electricity distribution company called BSCS has been making efforts to make people aware of such frauds through messages.
“BSES discoms have been sensitising consumers and, in fact, have undertaken a very aggressive campaign in the last few months across multiple platforms, including on social media, WhatsApp, SMS Alerts and consumer newsletters (that go with the bills) to inform consumers to be vigilant against these fraudulent calls and messages,” the statement said.
“BSES officials are also educating consumers during in-person interactions and in RWA meetings to be alert to fraudulent calls and messages regarding electricity disconnection, bill payment, etc. and not click on unknown links or call on suspicious numbers received through SMS or e-mail,” the statement read.