Online fraudsters, who promise you millions of pounds that exiled princes and fallen dictators from unheard banana republics have left for you or you have won even without participating in assorted international lotteries, have just taken the Internet's oldest trick a few notches above.
Over the past few days, a phishing mail spamming email boxes promising citizens money – in return of a 'small processing fee' and a whole truckload of their banking details – has the seal of the Reserve Bank of India and a nice photograph of RBI Governor Raghuram Rajan for good measure.
The email promises the lucky recipient Rs 3.97 crore as his share of the 'outstanding debts' of the 'British Government' accrued between 2011 and 2013. The letter goes on to state that distribution of these outstanding debts comes at the back of a 'decision' taken in a 'meeting' held on March 21 attended by the 'RBI Governor R Rajan, United Nation Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and the Senate Tax Committee on Finance of the RBI'.
However the catch is that the recipient would have to pay a sum of Rs17,800 as processing fee to get the paperwork started to transfer the money. However, according to banking officials, what is troubling about such mails is the long list of personal details that goes into the database of these online fraudsters.
This letter asks the recipient to send in not only basic details like name, nationality, occupation and the like but also banking info such as the bank name, branch, account number, account holder's details and for good measure 'an identity proof for further verification'.
"It works in two ways. Firstly these frauds manage to make some money from unsuspecting people who fall for the trick. But the more dangerous part is the kind of details asked for that will allow a fraudster to create a new bank account or even operate somebody's account if by any chance the bank does not employ due diligence," said a banking official.
While dna called and sent messages to RBI's corporate communications team to find out if the apex bank had come across such fraudulent letter or if it had filed any police complaint, the paper got no response from RBI authorities.