Well, first of all, I wish no one ever experience something like this. I am educated enough to a write a blog but I felt into their trap.
I have received a call from an unknown mobile number and as per them I am supposed to get a refund of some extra charges against one of my credit card amounting some 2100/-. As the amount is less, I didn’t doubt the caller (who was smart enough to share his employee ID and other details to convince me) and I ended up sharing more than the required info about a card that I am holding with ICICI bank, including an OTP. I know what you all must be thinking right now. I request you to hold your emoticons and making statements like, ‘how on earth a person like you can do something like this…bluh bluh etc. I know, I was fool enough to do that but smart enough to share the details of that card which has only 2800/- as balance.
Within few minutes and as I was talking to them, a transaction of Rs. 2500/- was done through my card. As I objected, they disconnected call and never cared to pick my call again. I reached the nearest ICICI bank (in fact I was 100 meters away from the bank when I was speaking to them) to inform the same. They handed over me the transaction details and asked me to report the same to Crime Branch of Gurgaon and asked me to block the card by calling their customer care – which I did immediately. He also told me that if I try to contact the merchant, there is a possibility that they can stop the settlement as it usually takes around 24 hours. But he couldn’t help me with further information regarding the merchant or anything at that moment of time.
The text message from ICICI bank mentioned that the transaction was done for MPESA (the beneficiary) and the transaction number retrieved from the bank mentioned as MIN/VODAFONE-BI/2016XXXXX. As I typed this in google, I have learnt that MPESA is an account managed by Vodafone against their postpaid mobile users. When I typed VODAFONE-BI in google, it took me to Vodafone payment gateway – BillDesk. BillDesk is also used by many banks and other bodies as payment gateway. I immediately called both MPESA and BillDesk customer care. They have shared their respective email addresses (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) to lodge a complaint which I did with whatever information that I had. Post this I went to the crime branch office residing at the DC office, Civil Lines, Gurgaon.
Once I reached the crime branch, I have learnt about many such cases and I got convinced that nothing will happen or chances are almost zero. The officer traced the number to UP. I returned from there without even filing an FIR.
By then, I have received mails from both MPESA and BillDesk asking my card details to verify the transaction. BillDesk was one step ahead as they have also mentioned how to send the card details in an encrypted format. I did as per their request and tried to forget the whole thing. More than the amount, I was trying to forget it as I was feeling very foolish.
The very next day at around 9.30 am I have received a call from MPESA stating that the card number I have shared was either wrong or no transaction has happened thru that card. As I checked at my end, I have found that I have provided wrong card number – a mismatch of a digit. I have provided the correct card number to the executive concerned. By around 2pm, I was called by the same MPESA executive and she told me that they have tracked the transaction details and blocked the mobile number against whom the transaction was processed. They asked me for an FIR so that they can process the refund. Thanking her enough I went to the Crime branch once again.
As I discussed the entire matter including the mail that I have received from MPESA, the officer feed in few details in his computer including my account number, card number etc. After few minutes he asked me to go home. “But I need an FIR copy”, I told him. “You did whatever you needed to do and I have done my part. So go home and enjoy. The money will be refunded”, he replied. I was not sure and asked him for an acknowledgement. With a straight face he replied, “Agar nahi refund hua to jo chaho le jana”. I wanted to ask “by when”, but considering his earlier response – “take it and go” (remember Peter Russel?), I decided to leave. But I must say, he was cordial for most part of the discussion and at the end he stretched his hand to shook mine and re-assured me for the final time.
Post this, I mailed to MPESA stating that Crime branch has initiated the matter and I do not have an FIR copy to submit. Within an hour or so, I was called by the same executive and told me that they have received a request from the Crime branch and the same will be processed but there was a catch. In the request the date was mentioned as 20/09/2015 instead of 2016. Which means I had to visit the crime branch again.
On 29th Aug I have received the following update from BillDesk regarding the transaction.
|Sr.No||Merchant Name||Transaction ID on our (Indiadeas.com) platform||E-wallet Number for which the payment was made||Transaction Date and Time (IST)||Transaction Amount (Rs.)||IP Address from where transaction initiated||Status|
|1||VODAFONE MPESA||GCMP4766701547||9628723839||20/09/2016 13:43:14||2500||188.8.131.52||SUCCESS|
The money was finally refunded to my account on 6th Sep 2016. Between all these transactions, I have heard many horror stories, few at the police station and few at the ICICI bank. In one such case, a poor guy was looted with Rs. 65000/- or so and the money was routed to different accounts through NEFT. I was lucky that in my case it was paid to a mobile account only.
I am yet to figure out few things. Like how come they find out that my account has less balance? They could have initiated a transaction of higher amount as well. Secondly, how the entire laundering happens post re-charging the Vodafone account? Well, I will certainly find someone with some logical explanation for these questions but I will never have an explanation of this one –
“How the hell a person like me who knows everything felt in to the trap of such people?”
Nevertheless, It was an experience of its kind which I wish no one has to go through.