Rapid rise of online matrimonial frauds..........by Gurjot Singh Kaler
As the name itself suggests, online matrimonial frauds are those types of fraud that are committed under the pretext of marriage through the internet. Under this crime, women sometimes get sexually abused and are economically exploited.
Generally, both men and women can become a victim to such types of crime but in most of cases, it’s the women who are in a more vulnerable position. Matrimonial frauds can be effectively dealt with under the Indian Penal Code, 1860, under section 415, s. 416, S. 417, S. 419. If matrimonial fraud is committed online, then the Information Technology Act, of 2000 can be opted to.
It has come to light that a lot of scamsters or cyber criminals have resorted to creating fake profiles on various popular matrimonial websites and through these, they lure their potential victims.
Ways to identify online matrimonial fraudsters:
It is important to look for red flags for identifying fraudsters. Such red flags include the following-
- They are never willing to meet in person in real life. They are highly reluctant to even have a video chat or show their face on camera. Even the profile photo also may not be theirs.
- They do not have any social media account or even if they have, it looks unrealistic as it is not active enough or they have a limited number of friends in their list.
- They hesitate to share their family or workplace details and avoid answering many personal questions which can expose their true identity.
- They request for immediate money transfers online, citing emergency family or personal issues. Initially, its generally a small amount and then, they ask for big sums of money too by emotionally blackmailing their victims. They often come up with false stories to gain emotional sympathy.
- Their profile on matrimonial website looks too good to be true for that person to be expressing romantic interest in you. Often, the fraudsters are inclined to express their so-called ‘love’ towards the victims too quickly as they are in a hurry to dupe them. So, if someone expresses love too hastily to you even before fully understanding you and conveys their intention to quickly get married as early as possible, it is possible that it is a clever trap.
- They call from multiple numbers. They usually don't give a number to call back. Even if they give a number, they don't pick up when you call. Later, they call you back from a new number and make up a false story as to why could not they pick up the call earlier.
- They request for deletion of your profile immediately after getting in touch with you as they do not want you to communicate with anyone else.
- They ask for your email user-name/ password or credit card/ bank account details
How to protect and save yourself from these matrimonial frauds-
With increased levels of cyber awareness, you can easily prevent becoming a victim of such online matrimonial frauds.
- Check the genuineness of the matrimonial website and the profiles.
It is important to conduct an in-depth Google search about the available online matrimonial platforms. Before you register, look out for authentic good reviews from registered users and find a suitable website which is genuine. Also, most of the matrimonial websites add a verified batch of profiles that are checked by their team.
If you see a verified batch, you can trust that profile that it is a realistic one. Also, to access a matrimony website, always type in the correct URL in your browser window. Do not click on unsafe “short” links sent via SMS or WhatsApp.
2.Verify the profile for its authenticity
After you have selected a particular profile, do a thorough check of its antecedents and background credentials like current and permanent address, family members, educational and workplace details, etc. Learn to check every detail carefully.
If you feel that there is any mismatch in information, do not hesitate to ask the other person about it. Also, verify the digital identity of the concerned person by searching for them on social media or google. Lookup for his profile on other websites like Facebook, Instagram and most definitely LinkedIn. Ensure that the photograph matches with candidate’s age.
Don’t prefer an individual who is frequently making changes in his/her profile such as traits, caste, occupation, etc. While looking for prospects on matrimonial sites, family involvement is almost inevitable. However, if the person on the other side tries to keep the details of their family under wraps, take it as a warning sign.
Also, scammers try to impress their victims with a display of wealth and richness by bragging about their occupation, bank balance, and social lifestyle. This is a red flag.
3.Be sensible and do not rush into taking decisions
If you feel that the other person is madly in love with you even without fully knowing you, and wants to fix the marriage date as early as possible, it is time to take a step back. Think and introspect clearly as the things are probably looking too good to be true. Also, never reveal or share your intimate pictures or videos with other persons whom you happen to meet via these websites.
These can land you up in a bigger problem later on as these can be grossly misused by fraudsters who can threaten to upload them on internet or send to your close family members or friends in order to scare you into submission and extort money from you.
4.Avoid Sharing any Account-Related Information or Entertain any Request for Money
If the other person tries to ask you for money in the initial stages of a relationship, it is simply an indication of a red flag. Normally, such money is requested to be transferred through online modes of payment. Stay vigilant as no genuine person would ask you to lend money at an early stage of a relationship. It is better to not get into any financial transactions unless you are double sure. Keep your username, passwords, and one-time password (OTP) safe and never share it with anyone. Remember no decent person would ask or keep these demands in front of you.
If the person demands money or property citing various emotional reasons, report their profiles to the website team and block them right away before becoming a victim of their clever storylines. Also, do not shy away from lodging police complaints.
Many victims avoid reporting the crime because of the fear of social shame and stigma associated with it. Take a clearly visible screenshot of the evidence. Tell the police the brief facts of the complaint explaining how you have come in contact with the alleged person/website and subsequent fraud. To report cybercrime complaints online, visit the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. This portal can be accessed at https://cybercrime.gov.in .
In this portal, there are two sections. One section is to report crimes related to Women and Children (where reports can be filed anonymously as well). Another section is to report other types of cybercrimes. Complaint can also be filed via offline by dialling the helpline number 1930.
5.Meet personally before you take a step forward
If after chatting online and over the phone for a while, if you feel comfortable enough to meet them, go for it. Even if you have your trust in them, set up a meeting at a public place like a restaurant or coffee shop along with your family member or close friends.
Do not go to meet them alone as it can be a trap. Also, always keep your family and elders informed about the profiles which you are seriously checking and interacting with on these matrimonial websites. A lot of times we might miss a red flag that can be caught by their experienced eyes. The key to discovering a perfect life partner and finding true love and happiness online is to 'Stay alert'.
October 9, 2022
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