Kerala-cadre IPS officer Merin Joseph, whose photo had gone viral on social media in September 2014, has warned people against online fraud and identity theft after an individual pretending to be her kin tried to extort money from people in Kerala and abroad. Following a complaint she received on Monday, May 2, the Assistant Superintendent of Police said a person has been arrested from Alappuzha in connection with the case.
"I received a complaint yesterday that somebody pretending to be my relative is extorting money from Malayalis both in the state and residing in the Gulf. On the basis of that a case has been registered and the culprit has been arrested in Allepey [sic]," she wrote on her Facebook page.
Merin, through her recent Facebook post, also informed her followers it was the only social media account she had, and that all the other profiles were fake. "This is the one and only true profile of mine. I don't have any official Facebook page. Any other profile in my name is fake, and all pages are administered by other persons [sic]," she wrote.
The IPS officer has also urged people to be careful with monetary transactions on online platforms. She has also reminded people that using another person's photo without their permission was a cyber offence. "Remember that anyone asking you for money online is definitely a criminal. Using somebody's pictures without their permission is an offense, so is stealing someone's identity. Be ready to cool your heels in prison if I find you trying to make me a victim [sic]," she wrote.
Merin took social media by storm in September 2014 after a Facebook page named "Kochi Pazhaya Kochiyalla" posted her photo with the caption: "Merin Joseph IPS - How many likes for our new ACP of Kochi? [sic]" Merin subsequently took to her Facebook account to clarify that she was no assistant commissioner of police as she was then undergoing training at NPA Hyderabad. She got her first posting in December that year as ASP under training in Kochi, Kerala. She then hogged the limelight after her photograph with Malayalam actor Nivin Pauly went viral on social media. The officer was criticised for allegedly violating protocol by taking the photo while in uniform.