When a fraudster faultered

It is difficult to say what makes people panic even under normal circumstances.

The other day, my colleague was casually browsing through the mail in his inbox when the subject-line in one mail read "PAN Deactivated." Momentarily put off, he hurriedly opened the mail where it sought some personal details over the  phone, on receipt of which, an OTP would be sent to facilitate the reactivation of his card.

Without reading the sender's e-mail ID, or thinking about the need for parting with confidential data, he faithfully complied with all the directions over the  phone to the designated number. Needless to say, he lost heavily and still carries bitter memories of that incident that burnt a big hole in his pocket, besides making him a laughing stock among his friends.

Despite the categorical announcements in the media on PAN and Aadhaar, and the deadline to link them, strangely, his mind did not work as would be expected of a person of normal prudence. There are no takers for his candid confession.

Some time ago, in our company, which is a subsidiary of a public sector bank and is a listed entity, a similar incident took place, where a number of staff members - right from the president to the desk officers - were targeted.

The fraudster had done his homework meticulously. He had the names of all the staff members duly mapped to their respective official mobile numbers.

He was aware that the bank president's mobile number ended with 100, and in descending order of the posts, the phone numbers systematically incremented by 1. So, while as the vice president and company secretary, my number ended with 101, the CFO's number ended with 102 and so on.

Additionally, he knew the names of some key personnel in the Project Office of the bank. And chose to make use of it, too. The culprit was  clever enough to start with the president. As he was busy, and did not respond promptly, the culprit called me up.

Greeting me by name, the fraudster introduced himself, saying he was calling from the Project Office of the bank. He then requested me to part with my credit card details, including the three-digit CVV number, which apparently had been blocked for some reason.

While patiently listening to the caller, and promising to follow his directions, I alerted my staff.

The seasoned fraudster had faltered on a crucial count of failing to update his data. I was on guard the moment he addressed me by my name, little realising that while the contact number remained intact, there was a change of guard at our end, and I was the new incumbent!

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