44-year-old woman loses Rs 11 lakh to phishing, ends her life

Bengaluru, June 29: In what is said to be the first case of its kind, a phishing scam has claimed the life of a 44-year-old woman in the city’s police limits. In previous cases, victims of the scam would approach the police or cyber crime officials to initiate action against the accused who operate from undisclosed locations. In this case, the woman who fell prey to scamsters after she received a message stating that she had won Rs 45 lakh, shelled out Rs 11 lakh to claim the amount.She did all the monetary transactions without informing her husband, a senior IT professional, and her two children, and also flew to Delhi to get the prize money. After she realised she was conned, she returned to her Bengaluru residence and killed herself by hanging.

The police have identified the deceased as Palak V, who stays near Swamy Vivekananda Road. The woman committed suicide at her house by hanging last week.She is alleged been lured by the accused who identified himself as Andrew and told her that she had won prize money of Rs 45 lakh. He claimed that the money would be sent as a demand draft in her name.Andrew further stated that he was entangled in some legal issues like customs clearance and would require the victim to pay some money for claiming the entire amount. Trusting the man and without consulting any of her family members, she fell prey to the designs of the scamster and paid money into four different bank accounts starting from June 6 to 13. She transferred the money to the accounts of Rahul, Hasnath, Shabbir and others. The highest transaction she made was about Rs. 2.5 lakh.

“As she was regularly remitting the money, the accused knew that it was a successful trap and kept making her remit more and more money, citing different trivial reasons. In all, she remitted nearly Rs 11 lakh and also flew to Delhi to fetch the prize money on the conman’s instructions. When he demanded more money from her by calling her on her mobile at Delhi, Palak requested that the prize money be given to her as she had no money left with her. When she was denied the “prize money”, she realised she was conned and returned to Bengaluru. The day before she committed suicide, she also tried to consume insecticide but was saved by her children. When asked by her family members what made her take the drastic step, she is said to have described the fraud.However, her family members assured her not to worry and would report the matter to the police. The next day, when her family members were in the process of going to the police station, she committed suicide by hanging in the bedroom,” said an officer who is part of the investigations.
The police have obtained details of the account numbers of the accused to which the money was remitted. All her monetary transactions are being verified and the bank involved has also been asked to submit the transaction details.

When contacted, the victim’s husband refused to comment on the incident and said the police are aware of the entire story.  “The accused are booked for abutment of suicide under section 306 and cheating under section 420 of the Indian Penal Code. Efforts are being made to look for the accused.Public should be careful of such scams. People who get messages or mails claiming they have won a jackpot or lottery should either ignore such messages or inform the local police. In all likelihood, arresting the accused involved in such scams will be very difficult as they keep shifting their base and operate under different names. The bank account numbers which they open will be for a temporary period and after a successful fraud, they would not further use the account.When the police do go to the address based on documents provided to banks at the time of opening the account, the accused would have fled,” the officer added.

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