Scam alert: Angamaly native loses Rs 17,520 after downloading app to pay KSEB dues

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Thiruvananthapuram: A retired government employee claimed he lost Rs 17,520 after downloading an app for paying the caution deposit due to the Kerala State Electricity Board (KSEB). According to him, the scamster had legitimate details about his payment due and consumer ID which perplexed him despite being suspicious.

Johnson NP, an Angamaly native, was contacted by the con man who claimed to be an official of KSEB. He said Johnson has dues in the caution deposit of the KSEB. Following the instructions of the con man, Johnson accessed a website that looks like the original site of KSEB, through an app. Johnson was threatened that the electricity connection will be disconnected if he fails to pay the amount immediately.

"I received a message a day after I changed the ownership of a shop to my name. I was planning to go to the KSEB office to deposit a caution deposit in instalments. But, I received a message today claiming that I should pay the dues or the electricity connection will be disconnected," he said. He thought the message was genuine as it carried the exact amount he had to pay.

Following this, he contacted a phone number given in the message. The person on the other end told him he was a KSEB employee and asked him to furnish details of the due. He was speaking in English. He advised Johnson to download the 'Team Viewer' app, a remote access and remote control software, on his mobile and follow the instruction for completing the payment through the KSEB website.

"I followed the steps and deposited Rs 20. Feeling suspicious, I contacted a KSEB officer I knew, but the call was interrupted after the scamster called me back. He asked to relaunch the app. Once I opened the app, I received the message that Rs 17,000 and Rs 500 were withdrawn from my account. I contacted him again, but he failed to answer," he said.

Johnson pointed out that even though he felt suspicious about the caller, the information about consumer ID and bill payments provided by the scammer was legit. "I didn't know if a person could imitate the KSEB website or collect details of our payment from a government portal. I have lodged a complaint with the bank and will report the incident to KSEB and Cyber Cell," he added.

On his Facebook post, another customer commented that he was about to fall for a similar prey in the name of Bangalore Electricity Supply Company Limited and he escaped from it because the caller spoke in Hindi.

Meanwhile, KSEB on Tuesday said that such fraud messages are being circulated in Malayalam language as well, intimating that the scope of the scam has widened. The officials will never ask for bank account details of the consumer or OTP, it warned the people.

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