Fraud Alert: Drugs in Wedding Card; Gigolo and Escort Job Scam
Yogesh Sapkale | 11 February 2023
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The smuggling of drugs and gold remains one of the most lucrative business activities for criminal gangs. Gangs involved in drugs are always on the lookout for newer ways to supply harmful and illicit products worldwide. In most cases, small-time peddlers or mules face punitive action, while the kingpins remain safe. 
 
A video being re-circulated on social media has fascinated people because it shows customs officials retrieving drugs hidden in 43 lavish and expensive wedding invitations. There is a scary dimension to this for innocent bystanders too. More about that later. 
 
With increased layoffs by large companies, good jobs are becoming an illusion for youngsters. Being young today also means an increased ability to take a risk, just for a 'kick', or to make big bucks and get the good things in life very quickly. Becoming a gigolo or an escort seemed a path to easy money, but it cost a few lakh rupees each for over 4,000 youngsters who became victims of a racket running in and around Delhi for the past four years. I write about this too in today's column.
 
Drugs in Wedding Invitation Card
 
A video that is going viral on social media actually dates back to 2020. It shows customs officials discovering a total of 5kg of ephedrine skilfully hidden inside 48 lavish wedding invitation cards. A woman was carrying these invitation cards in her bag. The drugs would have fetched a market price of about Rs5 crore. 
 
Last September, Rupin Sharma, an officer from the Indian Police Service (IPS), tweeted the video as a warning to travellers not to accept or offer to carry anything from strangers that they may meet at the airport. Wedding cards are especially innocuous looking and associated with such positive vibes that people could easily be trapped into carrying them through customs.
 
 
The video shared by Mr Sharma shows officials tearing open the invitation cards to reveal drugs hidden in plastic bags inside the layers of cardboard and paper. The drug mafia's effort in creating genuine-looking wedding invitations, bulked up with multiple event cards to hide the drugs, is quite noteworthy—they clearly spared no expense on them. The scam was so well planned that it is most likely that customs officials had received a 'tip' about the lady carrying drugs inside wedding invitations. Otherwise, it is unlikely they would have sniffed them out without a dog squad. 
 
Since we are discussing drugs, the Supreme Court has asked enforcement agencies to try and catch international drug syndicates, and not small-time peddlers. While hearing a bail plea filed by an accused, a bench of chief justice DY Chandrachud remarked, "What are you doing about real offenders who are running international syndicates? Try and catch them and then save the people...You are catching small-time peddlers, farmers but the not real culprit."
 
While the apex court granted bail to the accused, do remember he was caught twice for possessing opium and served five years in jail. For the offence he committed, he could face a jail term of 10 years under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act (NDPS Act).   
 
To return to our main focus, the lesson here is to steer clear of being needlessly helpful when travelling. Mr Sharma has rightly pointed out in his tweet, "Be careful… do not take anything from anyone at the airport.
 
Regardless of its shape, size, or item. Neither old nor young, male, female and child, anyone whosoever!"
 
Gigolo and Escort Job Scam
 
The Delhi police recently busted a racket that duped over 4,000 youths of lakhs of rupees on the pretext of providing them jobs as gigolos or escorts. According to a report from IANS, Shyam Lal, one of two people arrested by the police, is fluent in both Hindi and English and mimics a woman's voice. He used to pose as a non-resident Indian (NRI) woman client to lure the victims.
 
Both the accused have been running a racket of offering playboy services, escort services, and gigolo and dating services online for the past four years.
 
They created a website SPPlayboyservices.com to lure job seekers. They collected money from the victims for registration charges, as well as for advance commission of 40%, massage kit, passcode charges and hotel booking. The irony is that people actually fell for it in the expectation of ripping or being amply rewarded by clients!
 
Both have been defrauding people since 2017 in the name of providing playboy services, gigolo services and escort services. They used more than a dozen bank accounts to receive the fraud amount, police told the news agency. 
 
How To Report Cyberfraud?
 
Do report cyber crimes to the national cybercrime reporting portal http://cybercrime.gov.in or call the toll-free national helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c).
 
 
Stay Alert, Stay Secure!