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Nepalis in New Delhi falling prey to ‘digital crime’

New Delhi, July 8, 2016: A few months ago, Rupa Bista (name changed) approached the Embassy of Nepal in New Delhi seeking help. She told the embassy officials that her friend, who she identified as Orenando Banado from London, had sent her $15,000 and other valuable goods which were confiscated by Indian customs officials. She told the embassy officials that she wanted help to release the confiscated items.

SSP Yadav Raj Khanal, a police attaché at the embassy, and other embassy officials approached Delhi Police and other concerned agencies “to release the items”. Later, it was found that no such items had ever arrived. As a matter of fact, she had been duped, according officials.

It later turned out that Rupa had already spent around Rs 500,000 to get the items, which never existed, released. Police and embassy officials said many Nepalis were falling prey to such kind of “digital crime”.

In Rupa’s case, the story goes like this: Rupa meets “the man from London” through Facebook. They become friends. Rupa finds the man “loving and caring”. One day he tells Rupa that he has sent $15,000 and other gifts. An elated Rupa waits for the consignment to arrive. A few days later, a person, identifying himself as an official from the Delhi Customs Office, calls Rupa and tells her that the customs officials had found cash in the package, which is in violation of the rules. He tells her that if she does not deposit $1,000 in a certain bank account, the cash and valuables will be confiscated for good. She informs about this to her friend in the UK, who insists that she follow the “customs’ official’s” instructions. After a few days, she is again asked to deposit more money. Even after spending $5,000, she fails to receive the package. And suddenly her “friend” disappears. A frantic Rupa rushes to the embassy for help.

According to the embassy officials, Rupa is not the only victim of such scam. According to SSP Khanal, the embassy has received as many as four such complaints in the last six months. Embassy officials are facing a hard time convincing these victims not to get trapped into such scams.

“Officials from the Crime Branch Delhi have informed us that such fake cases are increasing in Delhi. They said they have made a few arrests as well,” said SSP Khanal.

According to him, such fraudsters lure people into depositing money in their bank accounts in return of huge amount of money and other valuables. Once they receive the money, they disappear and their bank accounts are closed. Embassy officials have urged all to be careful while making friends through social media.

Embassy officials say they have received as many as four complaints in the last six months in which people have said they were duped into paying money.

By Kamal Dev Bhattarai