How fraudsters are using photos of senior TS officials, cops in fake messages to extract money

In a recent case, the Telangana director general of police (DGP) M. Mahendar Reddy’s photograph was used in a message seeking medical aid. It was circulated on various WhatsApp groups of the police department.

By KANIZA GARARI  Published on  28 Jun 2022 11:05 AM GMT
How fraudsters are using photos of senior TS officials, cops in fake messages to extract money

Hyderabad: Impersonators are using photographs of senior police officers and government officials to extort money in the name of medical aid and donations for natural calamities.

In a recent case, the Telangana director general of police (DGP) M. Mahendar Reddy's photograph was used in a message seeking medical aid. It was circulated on various WhatsApp groups of the police department.

Such messages are created by unknown people but circulated in the highly-closed and personal groups of police officers and government officials. Subordinates in various police departments and mid and junior-level officials are targeted. The money is taken as gift cards which can be redeemed in the United States of America or Africa.

The central crime station has blocked the number of the impersonator.

The impersonators use photographs from government websites to create fake messages. They target only those groups that will easily believe the call of senior officials for charity. For this reason, closed and inner circles are targeted.

Phone numbers are procured from various government websites and the messages are created in such a way that the gullible ones forward it, said the police.

Only gift vouchers

There is no digital transaction. Money is contributed in the form of gift vouchers that can be redeemed anywhere in the world. Gift vouchers of international sites are directed in the message.

International connection

ACP K.V.M Prasad says the gang does not operate from India. "They are mostly from Nigeria. The messages are drafted in such a manner that officials believe they must listen to the call of their seniors and do the needful. We come to know of these only when alert officials from government departments complain. Since these messages target certain groups, they must first verify with their colleagues before buying the charity coupons," he said.

The central crime station said there are several such fraudsters in the cyber world and they often come to know of them only when a complaint is registered. It has asked government officials to remain alert and not get carried away without verifying with their colleagues or the office of the senior official who is mentioned in the message.

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