Trapped on a dating site, woman loses lakhs to cyber fraud

The cyber police probing the case say there have been many instances of fraudsters using genuine dating apps to lure victims. 
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

A 37-year-old woman’ love for a man she came in contact with on a popular dating site has burnt a deep hole in her pocket, as she ended up paying ₹4.5 lakh to a person posing as a Delhi airport official.

The woman has now approached the Bengaluru police to recover the money. 

Ragini (name changed) was approached by a man on Tinder who registered under a fake name, Advik Chopra, after swiping right on her profile on the app, to which she responded positively. Later, both began a conversation on WhatsApp. While his profile said he was based out of Mumbai, during their conversation, he said he was a medical practitioner in London. The duo came into direct contact about a month back.

The victim, who is currently working in Bengaluru, talking to The Hindu, said, “He was soft-spoken and gave an impression that he is a caring person. For about a month, we were in touch through WhatsApp. Gradually, he gained my trust and I eventually fell in love with him.”

Meeting in person

Ms. Ragini further said that one day, Chopra expressed the desire to meet in person and said he would fly from London to Bengaluru via Dubai. A few days later, he said his flight ticket from London to Dubai was confirmed, and he will be starting.

“On May 17, I received a phone call from an unknown number and the person identified as an official attached with the Airports Authority of India,” Ms. Ragini said. 

The official, who later turned out to be a fraudster, told her that Chopra, who arrived at the Delhi airport, carried unaccounted cash and needed to be exchanged, for which first endorsement should be done, failing which he could not fly down to Bengaluru.

The officer asked ₹68,500 for endorsement, ₹1.8 lakh as fees, and ₹2.06 lakh for other processing charges. The woman transacted money from her account to the bank details shared by the officer. After sending about ₹4.5 lakh, he again asked money towards paying GST.

“As I believed Chopra came all the way from London to meet me, I was pained by the trouble he encountered. I simply wanted to help Chopra get out of the airport,” Ms. Ragini said.

Growing suspicious

However, she grew suspicious when this fake officer asked for an additional ₹6 lakh for GST. When she started enquiring more, the call was disconnected. “Chopra also went incommunicado. This is when I realised I was cheated,” Ms. Ragini said. Immediately after this, his profile on Tinder was also deleted.

The cyber police probing the case said there had been many instances of fraudsters using genuine dating apps to lure victims. “Most of the time, in these cases, it is hard to find the accused. We are currently working towards recovering her money,” a police official said.

An FIR was filed at Whitefield cybercrime police station on May 19. Response from Tinder is awaited.

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