NRI allegedly duped of Rs. 28 lakh in online fraud- Beware!

 In an elaborate scam that covered three countries, a businessman was made to believe he had won a lottery of £10 lakh (Rs. 72 lakh) and cheated of his life savings. Harry Sagainathan, a Benson town resident, even came down to Bangalore to receive the amount. “I have lost my family earnings,” Sagainathan said adding that the fraudsters not only convinced him that he was the lucky winner of a UK government lottery, but also sent him emails claiming to be from the Reserve Bank of India (RBI). Sagainathan received an email from the ‘UK government’ informing that he has been chosen as lucky winner of online lottery of £10 lakh. The mail was sent by one Barry Gates who claimed to be from the directorate of Public relationships European Union, new Castle, UK. The email urged Sagainathan to contact Gates for further procedures. Sagainathan called up Gates, who asked him for £280 as fee for couriering the money. Sagainathan wasted no time in depositing the money in a bank account that Gates had set up. Gates called up to confirm that the money had been received, and asked him to further pay up £16,409 towards tax for transferring the money from the UK bank to Indian authorities. Sagainathan obliged and paid the amount. Following this, Gates informed him that he was sending Steve Robinson, a representative, to Bangalore for the cash delivery and asked him to pay for his travel expenses. Sagainathan paid another $940 for the airfare. Gates asked him to pay £567 for ‘custom clearance’, and Sagainathan complied yet again. Sagainathan flew down to Bangalore to receive Robinson on November 6. The next day, Robinson called up Sagainathan saying that he was at the Bangalore international airport and was having trouble with custom officials, and asked him to pay up RS 72,000 as custom duty to secure the release of the prize money. Sagainathan promptly deposited the money in a bank account. Robinson called up again, asking Sagainathan to deposit Rs. 4.3 lakh as per the RBI guidelines, which he did. Few hours later Robinson asked Sagainathan to pay Rs. 9.49 lakh more towards RBI fee to secure his tax code, which would help him get the money through RBI. Sagainathan said he did not have more money following which Robinson asked him to pay up the money in installments. Sagainathan paid Rs. 3.49 lakh and another Rs. 3 lakh on November 12. Robinson managed to convince Sagainathan that they have to follow a series of procedures since this involves money transfer from one country to another, for which Sagainathan agreed to cooperate. Few hours later Sagainathan got a call from Salim Gangadhar, a man claiming to be an RBI official, asking him to pay up a security deposit of Rs. 19.8 lakh. The ‘official’ informed him that this procedure was to obtain anti- drugs and anti-terrorist certificates from the UNO, and the money will be refunded to him. Sagainathan expressed that he did not have money, for which Gangadhar give him a ‘concession’ and asked him to pay Rs. 5 lakh. After paying the amount on November 22, Sagainathan’s ‘well-wishers’ disappeared. He tried to call the numbers but they were not reachable anymore. Realising that he has been duped, he approached the JC Nagar police seeking help. When Mid DAY tried to contact Sagainathan, he refused to comment stating he does not want this issue to be highlighted.



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