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Phishing call: True Story

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Friends, I got the below call yesterday.

Phone: Am I talking to Arpit Garg? a feminine voice enquired.

Me: Yes, speaking.

Phone: Sir, This is Rachna calling from ICICI bank. Your credit card is being replaced by a new Red Alert Credit Card, which preempts fraudulent transactions. I need to verify your existing card details to issue the new card.

Me: Is there any charge involved? I asked cautiously.

Phone: No Sir. This is card is absolutely free with no annual charges.

Me: No onetime or hidden charges? I asked again, having burnt my fingers a few times before.

Phone: No Sir. This is a free replacement. Can you tell me your date of birth for verification?

Me: ******

Phone: Thanks Sir. Can you confirm the expiry date of the card?

It started sounding fishy. No one from the bank has ever asked me for expiry date for verification.

Me: Can you please tell me the last four digits if my credit card. I want to check if you are from the bank after all.

Phone: Arpit Sir, I can’t tell you this till I verify your details. Please confirm me the expiry date of your card.

Me: **** I was reeled in for a min.

Phone: Thanks Sir. Can you confirm the issue date?

That did it for me.

Me: Sorry I am not carrying the card today.

Phone: Try and remember Sir. The new card can’t be issued without this verification.

Me: Sorry, I don’t recall the issue date.

Phone: Okay, when can I call you then?

Me: Call me tomorrow, same time. I hung up.

I called the bank in a hurry, afraid to have revealed the DOB and Expiry date of the card. The lady was quite convincing, I was deceived.

ICICI Bank: Hello Sir, This is Rajesh from ICICI bank, your wealth management officer. Thank you for calling from your registered mobile number. How can I help you?

Post initial verification. I told him the whole story.

ICICI Bank: Sir, it’s good that you didn’t divulge any details. We don’t have any such product.

As a precaution I got my card blocked. The next day, I got the call at the designated time. I was ready.

Phone: Hello Arpit sir, this is Rachna from ICICI bank. We talked yesterday. I need to verify your card details. Hope you are carrying your card today.

Me: Lady, I called ICICI bank and I know that you are a fraud. Where are you calling from?

“Beep…beep…beep”, she hung up.

I sent a mail to antiphising@icicibank.com reporting the incident and mentioning the two mobile numbers I got the call from. Incidentally one of them showed up as ICICI Bank on TrueCaller. Such was the attention to detail.

Beware from such calls and don’t reveal your details under any circumstance.

Update Sep 10: I have been receiving similar calls continuously from different numbers from Delhi claiming to be from ICICI Delhi office. Have forwarded details to ICICI bank. They have informed me that they are investigating it and also urged me to get in touch with Cyber Crime Police Cell. I told them I don’t have luxury of this much time. 

Written by arpitgarg

September 2, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Tring…Tring…are you an idiot?

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I received this call last week.

Caller: Hello, is this Hardhik Garg? not clear whether it was Hardhik or Karthik.
Me: May, I know who this is?
Caller: Hi, I am Shyamsundar. I am a pass out of IIT Guwahati. You are also from Guwahati naa Hardhik. I got your name and number from Satish Mittal. You might know him. He was from your batch.
Me: Arre, my name is Arpit. Yes, I know Satish.
Caller: Sorry Arpit. Actually I just talked to Satish over the phone. He was busy with a presentation. So couldn’t hear him clearly. By the way I am from ‘99 ECE batch.
Me: ’99 passout batch?
Caller: No ’99 joining batch. I passed out in ’03.
Me: Oh!
Caller: Yes, you and Satish would have joined a year later.
Me: Yes, exactly.
Caller: You might know Bora Sir, Gogoi Sir.
Me: Yes, I knew Bora Sir. Not remember about Gogoi Sir.
Caller: Well, I am in Mumbai right now. I came here with regard to my visa for Australia. I was travelling in local train when my wallet got lost.
Me: Oh God!
Caller: Yes and with it went all my cash, credit card, debit card.
Me: So you are out of cash right now. Guessing that’s why he had called.
Caller: Yes. That pretty much the case. I called Satish for help. He was busy in office. I know how it is. I myself was at Microsoft for over a year. So didn’t disturb him much. He gave me your number and asked me to contact you for help.
Me: Oh Ok
Caller: So where exactly are you in Mumbai?
Me: I am at my office in Powai area.
Caller: Oh! Near IITB. I have been there once during college.
Me: Ok. So where are you? How do you need help?
Caller: Sorry yaar. I guess I am not disturbing you.
Me: No problem at all.
Caller: I have just one debit card left with me. Fortunately, it was in the bag and not the wallet. It’s an old HDFC account. I haven’t used it recently, so it doesn’t have any balance right now.
Me: Yes listening.
Caller: Can you please deposit some money into this account. Would it be a problem?
Me: No. not at all. What’s your full name? Shaymsundar…
Caller: It’s S. Shaymsundar. I am from south.
Me: Oh. Ok. Yes go on.
Caller: My account number is XXXX. I will return your money as soon as I reach home.
Me: Oh. Ok. I haven’t received such calls before. Was not sure whether it was a crank call. How to be sure? Just then it struck to me. So which hostel were you in?
Caller: Oh! I didn’t live in hostel. My dad was … he told some Govt job, that I forgot in Guwahati. I used to live with my family in the city.
Me: Ok. You might know Ravi then. He was from your batch only. (Just made some name up to check).
Caller: No I don’t remember any Ravi. Which stream was he in?
Me: I don’t know exactly. Thought you might know. Well so bhaiyya (trying not to sound too questioning), who was the director at your time.
Caller: Oh! He was someone called Mohanty. You might not know him. (Caught you!!!)
Me: Yes, yes. So what is the sum you need?
Caller: Let’s see. I have to take a flight from here to Banglore. I would need 2-2.5K.
sounding hesitant and feeling sorry to disturb me I hope I am not troubling you any bit?
Me: Arre naa.
Caller: Is there any HDFC branch near you? You may check online for that.
Me: I think there is one branch nearby.
Caller: Oh. Thank God! So how long would it take?
Me: It should take me around 20 min to reach there.
Caller: So are you leaving right now?
Me: Don’t worry. I will leave immediately.
Caller: Thanks yaar. I would repay it on reaching Bangalore. I would like to meet you and Satish both when I return from Sydney. You guys are really helpful.
Me: Oh! No problem at all. After all you are our senior. This is the least we could do.
Caller: So. I’ll call you in half an hour.
Me: Yes, sure.

I called Satish. He whispered over the phone. He was in a presentation. I asked him does he know any Shyamsundar and had he given him my number. According to him, this guy called him some 15-20 minutes ago. Was not sure where he got his cell number. From orkut, perhaps. Forwarded the call to me, as he himself is busy. “Plz verify before doing anything”, were his words.

Well. I did leave immediately not for the Bank but for lunch. I went over the chinks in the story with my friends, to weigh the odds.

Chink 1: He was not able to tell the name of the hostel and made up some excuse. Plausible though, I must say.

Chink 2: There was no director by the name of Mohanty. GB Sir were there in our time and if he had passed in 2003, as he said he did, he should have known his name.

Chink 3: I would have understood if he needed some cash. But he needed money transferred into his account. Given internet (core) banking these days, he could as well have called his friends and family. They would have deposited money anywhere in India into his account.

Chink 4: Similar argument goes for the flight ticket to Bangalore. Any of his known one could have booked the ticket online. He just needed the PNR. Instead he went all pains to ask someone he didn’t knew even remotely.

Chink 5: The best part of it. The call was from a local landline number. I tried to call back but it was engaged. Probably a STD booth. So the guy didn’t have a cell number.

He called back and I told him that there is no HDFC bank in my vicinity. Better he call his friends and family to get a ticked booked online. Sorry that I could not help him. Looking forward to meeting him when he is back from Sydney.

Well, I still have his account number. (Based on real events)

Written by arpitgarg

September 9, 2008 at 1:23 pm

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