In a new kind of cybercrime reported, a 25-year-old animal lover has lost money to fake animal rescue helpline numbers. Ashwini Kiran S, a resident of Chamarajpet has lost about Rs 18,000 from her account after contacting a fake animal rescue helpline number.
Animal lover loses money
According to Ashwini, who feeds strays near her house, the incident occurred last Monday, when the fake animal rescue helpline she contacted asked to fill a Google form before sending an ambulance to rescue an abandoned blind dog at her street.
A black blind Labrador was left abandoned by its owner, says Ashwini. The dog also had some ailments and "since the dog had the collar, I waited for three days to see if anyone would come to pick her up but sadly no one turned up." But with the dog's health deteriorating fast, Ashwini tried contacting a few well-known dog care centres but found no response. It was then that she searched the internet to find a 24x7 animal pet care centre, which popped up on the top list.
When contacted, the agency agreed to provide a pet ambulance service to pick the dog immediately. "The man told me that they wouldn't be charging for the treatment and asked me to pay Rs 5 for the ambulance. He sent me a Google form link and asked me to fill in my details - name, contact number, and address. I told him that I would be sending the money through Google pay," says Ashwini.
But to her surprise, when Ashwini checked the account shortly after filing the form, all that she could find was a notification that said the account doesn't even have the minimum balance to do the Rs 5 transaction!
"When I checked the statement," she says, "it showed that the amount was transferred to an unknown account. In two transactions, Rs 18,389 was debited from my account at 4:45 pm and credited to another account named 'Ashwini'."
What bewilders her most is about the possibility of a transaction that did not even require sharing of the UPI pin or an OTP. A complaint has been lodged at the cybercrime department from where she learned that a similar case was reported by another animal lover who claimed a loss of Rs 40,000 to the same helpline. According to the police officials, most of these contact numbers that lure people should be double-checked before contacting. The credibility of the websites should be ensured by the users themselves.
Meanwhile, another animal care centre has taken the blind dog to their centre, providing proper treatments to the sick animal.