Hyderabad: For cyber fraudsters, the COVID-19 lockdown has been nothing short of a blessing. Even though online sale of liquor is illegal, fraudsters have taken to social media, luring people to buy liquor online. To make matters worse, few people have also bought into the gimmick, and ended up losing money, according to Hyderabad’s cyber crime police.

In a new development, the Cybercrime police has booked case against on ‘Tonic Wine Shop’ which had allegedly tried to ‘sell’ liquor online. Speaking to NewsMeter, KVM Prasad, ACP, Cyber Crime Police said, “Selling liquor online is totally banned in Telangana. However, not many people know this, and they are more desperate to get alcohol, due to the COVID-19 lockdown.”

“The modus operandi of such people is they first lure people with pictures of liquor on social media and say they are selling liquor.  Once people call them, they will ask for a 50 per cent payment in advance, which the customer gives. However, later when the customer asks about the delivery of the product, they will not respond. Basically, the customer loses their money. Mostly, the culprits behind such online frauds are from Rajasthan, who are involved in OLX frauds for instance,” the police officer said.

‘Tonic Wine Shop’ is the most recent case of online liquor fraud reported in the city. Galibe Vishal, who brought this matter into notice via Twitter said, “My friend saw this Tonic Wine Shop on Facebook. They had claimed that they will deliver liquor to your home. After placing the order, he payed Rs 600 to them via Google Pay, for a liquor bottle that costs Rs 1,200. Later they asked for more money, and then stopped responding altogether. That was when my friend realised this was an online fraud.”

https://twitter.com/Galibe_vishal/status/1248700495721463809?s=09

Another person had also complained on Twitter after losing Rs 6,000 to such online liquor frauds. “Two day’s back my one of my friend also lost 6000 but he has not given complain because of lockdown,” said a Twitter user, Wajahath Ali Khan.

https://twitter.com/wajahathkhan41/status/1248728534249398272

Earlier this week, case has been booked against one ‘Bagga Wines’ as well, for online liquor fraud. Cases have been booked under section 420 of IPC (cheating) and Section 66 B of IT act (Fraudulent computer-related offences). Further investigation is underway, said the cybercrime police officer.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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