BEWARE! Man lost Rs. 64 lakh from bank account in online scam; how phone hacking was done

    A Jaipur-based man has lost Rs. 64 lakh in an online scam from his bank account. The horrifying cybercrime was carried out by mysteriously disconnecting his phone.
    By: AKASH DUTTA
    | Updated on: Feb 17 2022, 15:00 IST
    A suspected online scam has seen a businessman get swindled out of Rs. 64 lakh from his bank account after his phone was disconnected. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
    A suspected online scam has seen a businessman get swindled out of Rs. 64 lakh from his bank account after his phone was disconnected. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO) (HT_PRINT)
    A suspected online scam has seen a businessman get swindled out of Rs. 64 lakh from his bank account after his phone was disconnected. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
    A suspected online scam has seen a businessman get swindled out of Rs. 64 lakh from his bank account after his phone was disconnected. (REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO) (HT_PRINT)

    A businessman based in Jaipur has lost Rs. 64 lakh in a mysterious manner. The online scam has left the city police to consider the possibility of the man's mobile phone being compromised in a mysterious manner. Shockingly, this was not a cybercrime carried out in minutes. The entire mobile phone scam took place over as many as two days without anyone knowing that it was happening! It all began after the businessman noticed that his smartphone suddenly lost network connectivity on Friday, February 11. The series of events that followed after that has left both the victim and the police puzzled and raised suspicion of it being a sophisticated SIM swapping scam.

    These online scams, also known as SIM swapping scams, happen when cybercriminals first load malware on a user's phone to find out the basic personal and financial information stored in the smartphone. Then they call up the victim and pretend to be a representative of the network provider and ask for personal information. If the user is gullible enough, he may actually provide this information to the caller. That is when he seals his own fate and money loss is bound to happen. Once the fraudsters get this information, they call up the telecom network provider's office and put in a request for a new SIM card and they prove their identity based on the information they received from the victim. Once it is done, the victim's mobile loses connectivity and the scammer gains access to the phone, through which they can transfer the money to themselves as now all financial SMS and OTPs are controlled by them. While it can't be confirmed if this is exactly what happened in this cybercrime case, the online frauds that have happened are of very similar nature.

    How this man lost Rs. 64 lakh in this online scam

    The online scam came to the notice of the police when Rakesh Tatuka, a 68-years old businessman in the city filed an FIR, the Times of India reported. According to his FIR, Tatuka says he mysteriously lost his mobile phone network connection on the evening of Friday. Noticing this glitch, he reached out to his friend and the firm's business partner. To his surprise, he also reported the same issue on his smartphone.

    Seeing how both of their networks had the glitch, they decided to reach out to the telecom company, assuming there must have been an issue from the network provider's end. Next day, upon visiting the branch office of the network provider, they requested for new SIM cards to quickly resolve the issue. Both Tatuka and his business partner got individual SIM cards. However, there was a delay in activation of the SIM card, which is a normal procedural delay. And due to this, they could not use the number for a while, which provided the cybercriminals the time to carry out their plan to steal the money.

    Meanwhile, both of them checked into their company's bank account through online banking. Strangely, they found out that there was a log-in failure which would not let them open the account. Tatuka even tried to log-in to his personal account and was met with the same failure. This is when he suspected an online scam had taken place.

    In a frenzy, Tatuka called up his bank's customer care number. To his horror, the operator told him that only Rs. 300 were left in his company's account and Rs. 700 were left in his own personal account. Apparently, the scammers hacked into both Tatuka and his business partner's mobile phones and had their SIM card deactivated to gain control on those numbers. And by the time they regained access to their number, he had already lost Rs. 64 lakh.

    Satish Chand, SHO, told Times of India that an investigation is underway and police are checking for any breach into the two mobile phones. He added that given both of their mobile phones suddenly lost connectivity raises the suspicion that their numbers were compromised.

    SIM swapping scams can be very dangerous. So, to make sure you protect yourself, do not give out any sensitive information to anyone calling on behalf of the network providers. They already have your information and will not call you. Also, do not click on any WhatsApp messages, emails or other links received on social media accounts. These links will ask for your information and then use it against you.

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    First Published Date: 17 Feb, 15:00 IST
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