Scammers Arrested In India Using A New Return Money Scam Tactic

A New Phone Scam Variation – Demanding the Return of Money Wrongly Sent

Author:
•  SCARS Editorial Team – Society of Citizens Against Relationship Scams Inc.

About This Article

In a recent cyber fraud case in India, a scammer devised a cunning scheme involving a fake hotel website, duping an unsuspecting accountant of Rs 49,500 under the guise of room booking charges. The arrest of the scammer, Zafar Khan, unveiled a sophisticated new scam approach granting scammers easy access to their targets’ mobile numbers.

Leveraging the ‘Friend Search Tool’ app, Khan identified potential victims and initiated phone contact under the pretense of returning mistakenly credited money.

Victims complying unthinkingly faced threats of legal action, illustrating the power of conformity and compliance in scam victims when interacting with authority figures. This case underscores the need for vigilance against evolving cybercrime tactics globally.

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Unveiling the Scammer’s New Phone Scam Tactic: The Return Money Scam

The Recent Scammer’s Case

The discovery of the Return Money Scam:

In a recent case of cyber fraud, a scammer devised a clever scheme involving a fake hotel website, duping an unsuspecting accountant of Rs 49,500 under the guise of room booking charges. This incident not only led to the arrest of the scammer, Zafar Khan, but also shed light on a sophisticated new scam approach that grants scammers easy access to the mobile numbers of their targets.

The accountant, seeking accommodation near the airport for three days, fell victim to the scam after making three bank transactions. Subsequently, he lodged a complaint with the DB Marg Police on January 14, prompting an investigation spearheaded by a dedicated team supervised by DCP Mohit Garg.

Following the complaint, the team, led by senior PI Vinay Ghorpade and inspector Vilas Bhosale, apprehended Khan in Bharatpur, of Rajasthan. However, Khan’s arrest this month unveiled a more extensive scam.

Upon seizing Khan’s mobile device and recovering the stolen funds, investigators discovered his use of the ‘Friend Search Tool’ app to identify potential targets. By inputting random mobile numbers into the app, Khan obtained hundreds of contacts from specific localities that could become phone scam victims. Leveraging platforms like Truecaller, he gathered detailed information about these individuals (scam victims)  and initiated phone contact under the guise of getting the victims to return money that was overpaid to them (return money scam.)

How this Return Money Scam works:

  1. Operating under the pretense of mistakenly crediting or depositing an amount of money into the person’s (victim’s) accounts,
  2. Khan would then persuade the victim to return the money immediately.
  3. Victims who complied unthinkingly would then return the money.
  4. Those who resisted returning the money faced threats of legal action.

Additionally, investigators suspect Khan’s involvement in another reported case, indicating a broader network of fraud.

Currently, Khan’s brother Kareem and an accomplice, whose bank account facilitated the illicit transactions, remain at large, underscoring the need for continued vigilance against evolving cybercrime tactics.

However, take note, that this is a scam that will work anywhere in the world, not just in India. Conformity and compliance are powerful desires in scam victims that can be exploited.

Compliance

To further deceive the victim, scammers may employ persuasive tactics, such as impersonating law enforcement officers or banking officials, to instill a sense of urgency and intimidation. Additionally, they may manipulate the victim’s emotions by insinuating dire consequences, including arrest or prosecution, if the repayment is delayed or refused.

Unfortunately, many individuals fall victim to this scheme due to the perceived legitimacy of the communication and the fear of facing legal consequences. Moreover, the psychological manipulation tactics employed by scammers can cloud scam victims’ judgment and compel them to act irrationally out of fear and desperation.

Scam victims often find themselves in a vulnerable position when communicating with authority figures, such as law enforcement officers or supposed representatives from financial institutions. The inherent power dynamics in these interactions, coupled with the victim’s desire to comply and conform, create a fertile ground for manipulation by scammers. Faced with the perceived authority of the individual on the other end of the line, victims may feel compelled to acquiesce to their demands without question, fearing the repercussions of non-compliance.

The psychological pressure exerted by authority figures can further exacerbate this tendency to comply. Victims may experience heightened anxiety and a sense of urgency to adhere to the directives issued by these figures, even if they harbor doubts or suspicions about the legitimacy of the situation. Additionally, the fear of facing punitive measures, such as arrest or legal action, can drive victims to prioritize obedience over critical thinking, leading them to overlook red flags and warning signs of potential scams.

Summary

This is yet another example of how scammers can exploit their victim’s uncertainty and confusion. By asserting authority the average person would want to comply to avoid prosecution or liability, but in doing that they become an unwitting victim of a scam.

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PLEASE NOTE: Psychology Clarification

The following specific modalities within the practice of psychology are restricted to psychologists appropriately trained in the use of such modalities:

  • Diagnosis: The diagnosis of mental, emotional, or brain disorders and related behaviors.
  • Psychoanalysis: Psychoanalysis is a type of therapy that focuses on helping individuals to understand and resolve unconscious conflicts.
  • Hypnosis: Hypnosis is a state of trance in which individuals are more susceptible to suggestion. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including anxiety, depression, and pain.
  • Biofeedback: Biofeedback is a type of therapy that teaches individuals to control their bodily functions, such as heart rate and blood pressure. It can be used to treat a variety of conditions, including stress, anxiety, and pain.
  • Behavioral analysis: Behavioral analysis is a type of therapy that focuses on changing individuals’ behaviors. It is often used to treat conditions such as autism and ADHD.
    Neuropsychology: Neuropsychology is a type of psychology that focuses on the relationship between the brain and behavior. It is often used to assess and treat cognitive impairments caused by brain injuries or diseases.

SCARS and the members of the SCARS Team do not engage in any of the above modalities in relationship to scam victims. SCARS is not a mental healthcare provider and recognizes the importance of professionalism and separation between its work and that of the licensed practice of psychology.

SCARS is an educational provider of generalized self-help information that individuals can use for their own benefit to achieve their own goals related to emotional trauma. SCARS recommends that all scam victims see professional counselors or therapists to help them determine the suitability of any specific information or practices that may help them.

SCARS cannot diagnose or treat any individuals, nor can it state the effectiveness of any educational information that it may provide, regardless of its experience in interacting with traumatized scam victims over time. All information that SCARS provides is purely for general educational purposes to help scam victims become aware of and better understand the topics and to be able to dialog with their counselors or therapists.

It is important that all readers understand these distinctions and that they apply the information that SCARS may publish at their own risk, and should do so only after consulting a licensed psychologist or mental healthcare provider.

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