Woman loses Rs 3.7 lakh to LinkedIn contact

Accused sent the IT professional an ‘expensive gift’ and made her pay money with threats of implicating her in money laundering.

A city-based IT professional was extorted of Rs 3.7 lakh by a contact she befriended over LinkedIn, a business and network-oriented website. The victim came in contact with a foreign national last month. Within a week, the accused, who claimed to be a British pilot, exhibited extraordinary fondness for the victim and said he is sending her expensive gifts via courier. When the victim refused to accept the gifts, she was threatened of being implicated in a smuggling and money laundering case and forced to pay close to Rs 4 lakh. The Vile Parle police have registered an FIR in the matter and are on the lookout for the accused.

According to the police, the victim works with a private firm. She came in touch on LinkedIn with the accused, who introduced himself as Maurison Franklin, a British national working with an international airline as a pilot. As they had got connected on a reputed social networking site, the victim did not suspect anything amiss and they began chatting. They also exchanged phone numbers and chatted on the mobile application. After a couple of days, Franklin told her that he was couriering an expensive and attractive gift for her. Though the victim refused to accept it, Franklin insisted and sent her an image of the courier receipt stating that the parcel has been dispatched to her address. He told the victim that the parcel contains a gift including a branded purse, a gold-plated Rolex watch and 50,000 pounds via an England-based British courier company.

Next day, the victim received a call from a woman who introduced herself as staffer of the courier company. She asked the victim to pay the processing fee. When the victim refused to accept the courier, she was allegedly threatened. “The woman threatened to implicate me in drug smuggling and money laundering cases and defame me on social media as I am the beneficiary of that parcel. I got scared and agreed to pay just to get out of this issue,” the victim told Mirror.

“The courier woman asked me to transfer the amount in four different transactions. When all the money from my bank account got over, I couldn’t pay further. Later, I checked with the courier company’s head office and realised I had been duped,” the victim said, adding that she then narrated the incident to her husband and lodged a police complaint.

“I never thought that the profile of the person I had made contact with was fake. He looked genuine. Even after taking so much money, he was calling me from different numbers and asking to pay up,” she said. “We have registered an FIR and our probe is on,” said a senior police officer from Vile Parle police station.

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