Fraud Alert: Money Extortion Scam in the Name of Customs, Beware of Fake Notices from I4C
There is nothing like visiting a government office or a public sector bank (PSB) to cut your ego down to keep your feet on the ground. Employees there rarely have the time to acknowledge you, let alone your 'aura' or 'high rank'. Such experiences are enlightening!
 
The point is government offices or banks, typically, don't reach out, unless you have initiated contact. Yet, many disregard this advice and respond to unsolicited calls from supposed bank officials or government officers, often falling victim to fraud and losing money. If anyone from these institutions does call, it is rare and very specific.
 
In recent days, there has been an increase in fraud committed by using the name of Indian customs. Some impostors have even dared to masquerade as the chief executive officer (CEO) of the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C) in emails sent to random addresses.
 
Money Extortion in the Name of Indian Customs
 
Several regional offices of the press information bureau (PIB) have been impelled to issue warnings on social media about this new fraud in the name of Indian customs. According to the warning, social media friends are asking for money or help, claiming to be detained by the customs department. 
 
"Indian Customs never calls or sends SMS for paying customs duty in a personal bank account. All communication from Indian Customs contains a document identification number (DIN) which can be verified on central board of indirect taxes and customs (CBIC) website cbic.gov.in," PIB says. 
 
 
This type of fraud in the name of customs is not new. In many matrimonial fraud cases, the victims are made to believe that their expensive gift sent by their prospective match from abroad is, indeed, held up at customs, and they need to pay money to receive the package. Such 'gift' packages never get delivered, and the 'foreign' prospective match also vanishes into thin air after receiving the money to clear the customs dues.
 
Another scam similar to customs fraud is the courier scam. In April, I shared one such incident of 'FedEx' interrogation scam. In this scam, the victim was subjected to a whole enactment, starting with a fake video call backed by a phoney cybercrime officer in a fake police station, then a series of fake interrogations with more fake police people, and four hours of threats and harassment.
 
Scam in the Name of I4C
 
The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre, or I4C, was set up by the Union ministry of home affairs (MHA) to deal with cybercrime in India in a coordinated and effective manner. I4C tackles all cybercrime-related issues, including improving coordination between law enforcement agencies and other stakeholders. 
 
However, fraudsters have found a new way to cheat common people. These fraudsters are sending emails to random email IDs or emails procured from the dark web in the name of Rajesh Kumar, the chief executive officer (CEO) of I4C. 
 
While fraudsters have taken the utmost care to make the email sound like an official one, there exist some dark spots, easy enough to label as bogus (highlighted in bold italics below). 
 
One such email received by a friend reads (verbatim): "The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre of The Indian Police Service immediately requests you to respond to the alleged Court Order hereunder attached against you... With the sophisticated Cyber Laboratory equipment, it is extremely difficult for any victim to visit Juvenile pornographic sites without being traced. If you require more information on the attached Court Order against you, do not hesitate to notify us. Failure to reciprocate to this Court Mandate within 24-48 hours will result in serious legal action against you. You are warned..."
 
 
Basically, no government department uses such language, which appears more like a translation job. Further, the government never 'requests you' or asks to 'reciprocate within 24-48 hours' on any matter. The main question one should ask is: Why a CEO would send you a 'warning' mail instead of other officials. 
 
While the text of these emails remains almost the same, many have received emails in Hindi from different email IDs. Mails in Hindi are being sent using cyberalets.org (note the spelling mischief here. It is not 'alerts' but 'alets'). Bogus emails written in English are being sent from 'fed-police-admin.com'. These email IDs may be spoofed ones.
 
 
The fact-check unit of PIB also confirmed that these are fake emails, and none of the agencies of the Indian government are sending such emails.  
 
 
I told one of my friends who received such an email, to forward it to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal at [email protected] and I4C at [email protected].
 
The Cyberdost team told him they had received similar complaints from many people. "The correspondences made through emails such as [email protected], [email protected]  [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected], [email protected] and [email protected] claiming to be officer of central bureau of investigation (CBI) or I4C are fake. You are advised to beware and cyber safe," it says.
 
How To Report Cyber Fraud?
 
Do report cyber crimes to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal http://cybercrime.gov.in or call the toll-free National Helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c). 
 
 
If the fraud is related to your bank account, you need to immediately send an email to the official email ID of your branch (you can find it on the bank's website or your passbook) with a copy to the bank's customer care. Even if you have called the official number for customer care, you must still send an email describing your conversation with the bank executive, along with the time, date, and duration of the call. This will be helpful if you face a liability issue with the bank.
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