Logging into a mobile phone app for the LGBT community to make friends has cost a 33-year-old man Rs 3.92 lakh.
Kumar (not his real name), a resident of Byrappa Layout, Whitefield, became friends with one John Martin, who claimed to be a UK national, on the app on October 10. They soon exchanged phone numbers and started chatting on WhatsApp daily.
A few days later, Martin told Kumar his birthday was on November 16 and he would celebrate it in India. He later sent Kumar photographs of his travel to to India. Kumar got excited and looked forward to meeting Martin.
On November 17, he received a phone call from one Suchitra, who claimed to be a customs officer from Delhi. She said Martin had been detained for bringing £30,000 in cash from the UK without the necessary documents.
She told Kumar that if he wants Martin released and the money returned to him, he must pay certain fees, such as currency exchange fees, foreigner and tourist clearance fees plus GST. The total was Rs 3.92 lakh. Kumar believed her and sent the money by bank transfer in two days.
However, Suchitra demanded more money. Kumar then went to the Kempegowda International Airport to enquire about the customs rules on foreign currency. Officials told him it looked it was a case of cheating. Kumar subsequently filed a complaint with Whitefield CEN police, which registered a case under the Information Technology Act and cheating.
A police officer said the case was different from earlier ones in that the victim was a man. Similar cases in the past had female victims.