Metrolife: Police hot on heels of 'herbal cure' swindlers

A herbal products racket is coming to light in Bengaluru, with the cyber police booking 16 cases in three months.

The frauds offer to sell seeds and oils for weight loss and detox. Victims are usually affluent, and between 30 and 45 years.   

High-ranking staff at the cyber crime police station say a big network is at work, and they are slowly gaining leads.

“The network tries to sell products online or offer a business partnership,” a top officer says. The frauds use multiple SIM cards and frequently change their addresses to conceal their identity. 

Their method is simple. They advertise products making tall claims online or through emails. Once a customer is hooked, he is asked to order the products by sending money to a bank account.

“The customer makes payments towards customs duty, and under other heads. This is a step-by-step process,” he says.

After the payments are made, the customer is promised delivery of the herbal products. 

When the parcel is eventually delivered, it contains stones or worthless substances, the officer says. The prices are always quoted in dollars to convince customers the herbal products are being imported.  “The victim is duped and told the products are exclusively marketed and sold by the company,” he adds. The second method is to offer a business partnership to market herbal seeds and oils.

“The frauds usually steal the name and background information of a well-known herbal company based in the US or UK. They use it to create a fake website, complete with details of chairman and board, annual growth and product line,” explains the officer.

Once a customer shows interest, he is asked for Rs 1 lakh. 

“The victim is promised that his annual earnings will not be less than Rs 1 crore. Driven by greed, he pays the money, and never hears from the company again,” he says.

The frauds study profiles on social networking sites before contacting their prey. They only communicate through emails and VoIP calls.

If a face-to-face meeting becomes necessary, a gang member meets the potential victim. The leader makes sure all members of the gang say the same things.

Round trip for city cops

The latest racket to be busted in the herbal seed and oil scam had its roots in Rourkela in Odisha.

Bengaluru cyber police arrested a man there, and his interrogation led them to Pune and Delhi. They got more leads and made another arrest, this time in Lucknow. They returned finally to Bengaluru to arrest two Nigerians here.

“Together, the gang had cheated people to the tune of Rs 30 lakh. We have arrested five people and frozen eight bank accounts,” a top police officer says.

Be cautious

Buy herbal products only from reputed sources.

Don’t accept any business deals from strangers.

Don’t make payments without carrying out due diligence.

Be careful about friend requests on Facebook from strangers.

Don’t respond to business emails from people you don’t know.

Seek help

080 2209 4498
cybercrimepscomplaint@gmail. com

 

This too!

Weirdly enough, the victims are convinced to pay 'anti-corruption' and 'anti-terrorism' fees.

 

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