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House owners lose lakhs in QR code frauds, ‘reverse’ payment

HYDERABAD: New cybercrime methods are leaving the police perplexed with fraudsters specifically targetting software and banking professionals who want to give their houses on rent.
Top police officers said several employees of multi-national companies are failing to see through the dirty tricks of fraudsters, who are siphoning off lakhs of rupees by either asking house owners to scan QR codes or receive rental advance through what is described as ‘reverse payment’ method that doesn’t exist.

Swaminathan, an IT architect of a Pharma MNC from Kondapur is one such victim who lost Rs 11.99 lakh. On February 5, he uploaded details of a vacant portion of his house on a real estate website seeking Rs 20,000 monthly rent and one month’s advance.

The following day, Swaminathan received a call from a person who identified himself as Randip Singh, a CISF officer transferred from Pune to Hyderabad. Showing interest, Singh wanted to pay the advance amount and explained to Swaminathan about a “reverse payment method used in CISF accounts department.”

“The person posing as CISF officer convinced Swaminathan that he would have to transfer one month’s rent to the ‘officer’s’ bank account and double the amount would be transferred back from the CISF accounts section into the house owner’s account. To test the method, Swaminathan sent Rs 1 and received Rs 2 from the fraudster’s bank account. Subsequently, the fraudster convinced Swaminathan to transfer Rs 11.99 lakh from his bank account and debit card through 12 transactions, while staying on the call for about two hours,” Cybercrime inspector M Ravinder Reddy said.

“All along, the fraudster convinced him that he would get double the amount he sends and Swaminathan ignored warning calls from his bank also,” the inspector said.

A manager of a private bank, Shiva Shankar of Chandanagar, lodged a similar complaint on February 2 saying that one B Pratap Yadav, posing as an Army personnel recently transferred from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad, made him transfer Rs 2.2 lakh from his mobile banking app to Yadav’s bank account through nine transactions in the guise of paying advance plus one month’s rent through the same `reverse payment method’.

On February 7, Srinath Kumar of Kukatpally, an associate team leader in a software MNC, approached police saying that he had placed an advertisement in house rental portals to rent out a vacant flat for Rs 20,000 a month and two months advance payment.

Kumar received a call from two persons, who identified themselves as armymen Randheer Singh and Bamu Gorai, transferred from Noida to Hyderabad.

“They wanted to make payment through QR code. Kumar lost Rs 2.74 lakh when he scanned the QR codes sent by the fraudsters and the amount got debited from his bank account, instead of getting credited,” the investigation officer said.

Source : TOI