One such affected parent, who works with a prominent cellular company in Gurugram, told TOI, “My son recently got admission to an engineering college in Shivajinagar. The college authorities told me that their hostels were full. Last week, I started looking for private PG facilities online.
I came across a few in the area. I contacted one and a man on the call informed me that he runs such PG on FC Road. He sent me some photos and asked me to make a quick booking. He asked for Rs10,000 rent, Rs4,000 for an ID card and other amenities. He also said a mess service will be charged separately.”
The parent added, “I immediately sent him Rs14,000 and we reached Pune. He sent us the location of the facility and we reached the spot. However, it turned out to be a residential building. When we contacted the man, he started abusing us. We realized that we had been cheated.”
Senior inspector Meenal Patil of the cyber police said, “The modus operandi of the cybercrooks involves posting bogus advertisements on websites and social media platforms, offering help to secure PG facilities for students. These are open pages and anyone can post their ads on them.
When parents call the numbers mentioned, the receiver promises a good location close to the institution where admission has been secured, food and other facilities. The parents are then asked to pay Rs10,000 as booking charges and Rs4,000 for ID cards, room keys, etc. Sometimes, they are even charged in advance for the mess facility and the total amount goes up to Rs20,000. In many cases, on receiving the money transfer, the crooks stop contacting the parents.”
A government officer from Jalgaon, whose son also recently got admission to a college in Shivajinagar, said, “The college authorities provided no hostel space to my son, so we looked online for PG facilities. We transferred Rs16,000 to a person claiming to run such a facility via UPI. But, when we reached the location, it turned out to be the premises of Pune police’s cyber police station. We reported the fraud there itself to the police.”
Patil told TOI, “We have received eight such complaints so far. We traced the phone numbers of the fraudsters to Haryana, Gurugram, Noida and Rajasthan.”