06, Dec, 2023

The Indian Courier Scam: How phone calls from ‘courier companies’ have been scamming people across country

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It generally begins with a missed call. If you bother returning it, you go across to an automated voice message informing you that you have reached the helpline of a courier company like Fedex or Blue Dart. Then there is a person pretending to be a Mumbai police officer and blackmails you into making a payment, claiming illegal drugs have been found in a parcel meant for you.

This is merely one of the variations of the courier scams where fraudsters pose as courier company employees and have conned people across the country out of money.

A Vikhroli-based doctor last week fell victim to a similar scam after she called up a courier company and ended up losing Rs 68,000. As per the FIR registered in the case by the Vikhroli police on Tuesday, Ramya N had made a purchase online. When there was some error in receiving the parcel, she looked online for the phone number of Blue Dart.

When she called up the number and enquired about the parcel, the person at the other end asked her to download an app, which eventually led to Rs 68,000 being debited from her bank account.

An officer said the police had received several complaints about fraudsters pretending to call from courier companies or using their numbers to defraud people. “They seem to have access to a database of courier companies, based on which they make these calls. In some cases, they have changed the number of the courier companies with their own numbers,” the officer said.

Cyber expert Ritesh Bhatia too put up a post on social media where a 23-year-old woman narrated how she was defrauded by the courier scam and lost Rs 1.97 lakh earlier this month. She received a call about a “parcel she sent” to Thailand when she had in fact sent no parcel. She was then told her number was involved in money laundering.

The person at the other end claimed to be a Mumbai police officer and asked her to come on Skype, where he provided his “credentials”. The person whose identity card was used is a retired DCP.

He then asked her to make two payments if she wanted to avoid trouble. Later, he asked her to make payments using accounts of other family members as well.

“They generally target young girls so that they can be intimidated easily. In some cases, on the Skype call, the fraudsters have a make-believe police station and are dressed in police uniform. I have received around 10–15 complaints,” Bhatia said.


Mohamed Thaver / Updated: November 23, 2023

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