Gullible 73-year-old conned out of Rs 56 lakh in a year in Bengaluru

The fraudsters conned Shiva, a 73-year-old businessman from North Bengaluru, by claiming that a close relative of his had named him the nominee for an FD at Kookmin Bank (KBC) in Cambodia, who died in a plane crash.
Last Updated : 28 April 2024, 00:22 IST
Last Updated : 28 April 2024, 00:22 IST

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Bengaluru: In what is believed to be one of the longest scams, fraudsters gained the trust of a gullible 73-year-old man and cheated him out of Rs 56 lakh over the course of a year.

The fraudsters conned Shiva (name changed), a 73-year-old businessman from North Bengaluru, by claiming that a close relative of his had named him the nominee for an FD at Kookmin Bank (KBC) in Cambodia, who died in a plane crash.

An officer investigating the case told DH that Shiva made more than 50 transactions over precisely 379 days, with the largest transaction being Rs 5 lakh.

“We were taken aback when we heard about the case from the victim’s son. We were initially unsure about taking up the case because the duration of the scam was unbelievable,” said the officer. She added, “The complainant submitted documents such as screenshots of chats between the victim and the suspects, bank transaction details, and fake documents sent by the fraudsters, which corroborated the complainant’s ordeal. After discussing it with higher-ups, we decided to take up the case as we saw no foul play.”

The officers were surprised that the victim didn't verify whether the relative was actually dead or alive.

"But the proof he submitted was solid," the officer added.

The scam started on February 7, 2023, when a suspect named Hopp Philip befriended Shiva on Facebook. Philip, who claimed to be an employee at the Kookmin Bank (KBC) "Phnom Penh" Branch in 'Combodia', informed Shiva that his relative, who had an FD worth 11 million USD in their bank—approximately Rs 90 crore as of February 2023—had died in a plane crash.

Philip later obtained Shiva’s WhatsApp number and claimed that the deceased had named him the nominee for his FD. He then sent forged bank documents to support his claims, according to the police.

Later, another person named Muratbinbay took over and contacted Shiva via WhatsApp. Muratbinbay claimed that the Supreme Court of Turkey had ordered the FD to be declared in Shiva's name and also sent fake documents (a court order) to support his claim.

The documents sent by both suspects were nearly perfect and appeared legitimate, as observed by this reporter.

As Shiva believed the story, Muratbinbay encouraged him to make smaller transactions initially, and then gradually increased the amounts. The suspect convinced Shiva that the transactions were for initiation charges, declaration charges, processing fees, document fees, and so forth.

However, on February 25, 2024, after Shiva informed the scammers that he had no more money, they ceased all communication. Unable to reach the suspects, a puzzled Shiva informed his son about his year-long interactions with the suspects, leading to the filing of a complaint.

The investigator said that the suspects may have scoured Shiva’s Facebook profile and picked a name from his friends list with a common surname.

“First, the FD sum quoted by the suspect enticed Shiva. He is a gullible 72-year-old man who always stays at home; he didn’t try to verify the death since the deceased was a distant relative, and he had almost forgotten about his existence,” the officer told DH, noting that Shiva didn’t even consider the Turkish court’s order when the bank is situated in Cambodia.

The fraudsters executed the scam well by calmly answering Shiva’s questions and using persuasive language.

An FIR has been filed under relevant sections of the IT Act and IPC Section 420 (cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property).

Published 28 April 2024, 00:22 IST

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