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Major Real Estate Fraud in Pune: Cyber Fraudsters Swipe Rs 4 Crore in Whale Phishing Scam

Major Real Estate Fraud in Pune: Cyber Fraudsters Swipe Rs 4 Crore in Whale Phishing Scam: A major cyber fraud case investigated by the Pune police involves a well-known real estate firm in Pune losing Rs 4 crore. Suspected to be a whale phishing attack, cyber fraudsters pretended to be the company’s Chairperson and Managing Director (CMD). They tricked the senior accounts officer into making 18 significant transactions to fraudulent bank accounts.

Pune Cyber Police Inquires Whale Phishing Attack

The cyber crime police station of Pune City police has started investigating a whale phishing attack, also called ‘spear phishing scams’ or ‘CEO scams.’ In these cases, cyber attackers pretend to be company executives to convince senior officials to transfer large sums of money to fake accounts.

The Deputy General Manager (accounts) of a real estate firm, which is working on various important development projects in the city’s commercial and residential areas, lodged a complaint at the cyber crime police station.

The fraud took place in the final week of January. On January 25, the complainant received a message from an unknown number, supposedly from the company’s CMD. The sender asked the complainant not to disturb them due to an important meeting. The message directed the complainant to transfer Rs 60 lakh via Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) to a specified account, with details provided in the message. The complainant followed the instructions, transferring the amount and even sharing the Unique Transaction Reference (UTR) number with the sender, believing them to be the CMD.

Fraud Alert: Real Estate Firm Defrauded of Rs 4.6 Crore

The police revealed that the cyber criminals persisted in requesting additional funds in the following days, with the complainant making the transfers believing the instructions were directly from the CMD.

On January 26, the sender even requested the summary statements of a company bank account, followed by instructions for transfers of Rs 27 lakh, Rs 50 lakh, and Rs 40 lakh. Over the next four days, the complainant was instructed to make 14 more transfers, totaling over Rs 2.2 crores. In total, the complainant made 18 transactions, amounting to a staggering Rs 4.06 crores, according to the police investigation.

During this period, the sender issuing transfer instructions consistently avoided taking calls from the complainant. Instead, they repeatedly texted that they were busy and assured that all necessary formalities regarding the transfers would be handled later. After completing the 18 transfers over a span of more than a week, the complainant finally contacted the CMD’s actual phone number upon their return from a trip abroad, only to discover that no instructions for fund transfers had been issued by the CMD.

Following this revelation, the company approached the Pune City police and filed a First Information Report (FIR) earlier this month.

A senior officer from the Pune City police stated, ‘We have initiated a coordinated probe into the case.'” The investigation has been entrusted to a specialized team from the cyber crime police station and is being closely supervised by senior officials.

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