MUMBAI: A 50-year-old homemaker ended up losing Rs 86 lakh after trusting the guidance of a friend made on social media and choosing to invest with him for five years. She even sold her jewellery worth lakhs to invest after the friend promised good returns.
She approached the police on realising she had been duped after the friend cut all communication. In her complaint, the woman said she had received a friend request from one Patrick George, who introduced himself as an investor and investment advisor from a foreign country, on Facebook in 2017 and accepted it. “George told her he had many options for investment and they would yield good results and give high returns. The woman told him she wanted to make investments for her only son’s future. George suggested she invest with him and asked her to send money to a bank account,” said a cyber police officer.
Driven by her desire to save and invest for her only son, the homemaker, who did not even have a bank account, would go and deposit money in bank account numbers provided by her FB friend. Between 2017 and 2022, she deposited Rs 86 lakh in 55 transactions to account numbers given by George. “All the bank accounts are from different banks in the north and northeastern states of India,” said an officer.
Last year, her son, who works for an airline and stays abroad, returned to India. He was checking her mother’s phone, when he came across information about the investments. When he asked his mother about it, she said that she had been investing with his future in mind and told him about George and his promises.
The son smelled rat and asked his mother to enquire about her investments and ask for a refund. As soon as she spoke about a refund, the social media friend stopped all communication. At this point, the woman approached the police and lodged an FIR. A case of cheating was first registered with a police station in central Mumbai. The probe was later handed over to the detection crime branch for investigation, and has now been transferred to the central cyber police of the crime branch.