An IT consultant from Pune was duped of Rs 3.8 lakh by cyber criminals running a fake online hotel booking racket in Mumbai. PK Javed, a 48-year-old director at an IT firm, fell prey to the scam on October 3 when he visited Mumbai for a business meeting and tried to book a room at a five-star hotel online.

Javed searched for the hotel on the internet and called on a number that was listed as the hotel’s online booking contact. A man who identified himself as Avinash, an employee of the hotel handling online bookings, answered Javed’s call.

Tricked Into Sharing Bank Details

Avinash told Javed that a room was available for Rs 7,927 per night and asked him to make an advance payment online to book the room. Javed shared his credit card details, including card number, expiry date and CVV. Soon after, Rs 3.76 lakh was deducted from his account through multiple transactions.

Avinash claimed that the hotel had received only Rs 10 as advance booking amount. He sent Javed a screenshot showing a successful transaction of Rs 10.29. However, this made Javed suspicious about the entire episode.

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Rushed to Hotel, Found No Avinash

Within half an hour, Javed rushed to the hotel to inquire about the booking. At the hotel reception, he was informed that no employee named Avinash worked there in the online bookings department. Realizing that he was duped, Javed approached the Airport Police Station and lodged a complaint of online fraud.

According to the police complaint filed by Javed, over Rs 3.8 lakh was fraudulently withdrawn from his account through multiple transactions within a short time. The police have contacted the bank to obtain details of the transactions made from Javed’s credit card.

Cybersecurity experts have pointed out that looking up contact numbers online and calling them directly makes customers vulnerable to such fake hotel booking scams. They advise using the official hotel website to book rooms online.

The Airport Police have registered a case against unknown persons under relevant sections of the IT Act and IPC. Further investigations are underway to identify and nab the cyber criminals behind the online scam. Police advise citizens to be vigilant while making any advance payments online.

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