COVID-19 and Another Incident

Sampada Sapkota
Posted April 20, 2020 from Nepal

"Hello" my mom received the call.

"Hello, which place is this?" the stranger on the phone asked.

"This is ABC (our locality) and who are you looking for?" my mom replied.

Without answering her question the man began, "Do you use internet?"

"Yes we do.", my mom answered.

"So, how many members are there in your family? And do you know anything about cyber-crime?" The man asked.

That day was Nepalese New Year. We celebrate it according to our calendar. This year, our New Year was on 13th April according to the English Calendar. New Year is absolutely an auspicious occasion for us. This year, because of the lockdown, we could not gather and celebrate as we used to do. But yeah, we celebrated it in the best way possible staying in the house with family members only. It was around 11:50 that our telephone rang and my mom picked up the call. When I heard my mom giving such personal information to a stranger on the phone, I got a bit worried (because she is not that kind of person who likes sharing her personal details). So, I took over the call and started talking to the man.

"Hello, who are you and what happened?" I said in a rather loud voice.

"I am XYZ(name changed) , from the cyber-crime department." He replied.

"Cyber-crime department?" I got really shocked.

All of a sudden, my mouth felt as dry as dust and my heart started beating so hard that I could feel it in my head.

The man explained" Your photo has been posted in a social site that was about to go viral but then we deleted that. Had you posted such kind of photo ever on any site?"

"No, never. My photo? What kind of photo?" I still replied in a louder and commanding voice.

"I cannot explain what type it is but understand that it's something personal. Is there anyone there who understands these things?" he asked.

"Yes, I do understand it. In which site was that published and can I see that photo?" I replied feeling tensed and scared.

"There was a photo of a couple, your mom and dad. And we deleted it. This time we knew about it. So, we deleted it but this might happen next time too."

"So, what should I do?" I still continued in a loud voice.

"Listen. Collaborate with us. We'll help you. Had your parents ever taken such photograph and sent it to anyone?"

Without asking them I began, "No, they never do that. They're too old to do these things. Moreover, their morality doesn't let them do so."

"Ask them once. They might have done that some years ago." He continued in a forceful voice. "Those photos even when deleted may be achieved by the hackers if they get access to your device. So, ask them."

I asked my parents and as expected their reply was no.

"No, they never did that and why would they post their own photo? Was that on Facebook? They don't use others. Maybe, those photos are photo shopped." I was much stressed.

"Hey, can't I recognize whether the photo is original or photo shopped. Am I a fool? I was just trying to help you. Imagine what would have happened if the police came to your house on the New Year. What would your society think? Just listen." he said in a commanding tone.

I got much tensed hearing his words and the compelling voice. I could not think of anything and I spoke in a soft voice," So, what do I do?"

"Give me your Facebook profile."

"I don't have one. But, wait, why to do so? What is the proof that you are from the cyber-crime department?" My mind got twisted all of a sudden.

"How do I show proof through this phone? We are coming to your house with a warrant." he continued.

What he said got me stressed. My inclination for family took over the doubt and I gave him my mother's name.

At the same time, he searched her name on Facebook. He said, "Is she the one who is associated with Nepal Law Campus?"

"Yes, that's her Facebook profile. She is a lawyer." I was saying but then the call ended.

The conversation lasted for about ten minutes. We all got tensed. We could remember nothing but his words "We are coming to your house with a warrant." We started discussing about what he said to mom and me. I started recalling his words. And these three things confused me a lot.

  1. Why did he not tell us the site in which those photos were published?
  2. How did he come to know that the photos were of my parents? If he knew my parents, then why did he ask for Facebook profile?
  3. Why would a police think about our reputation in the society instead of coming to our house directly?

I shared my doubts with my parents. I started feeling like he was not a real one. When I started thinking, the last thing he knew was, my mom's a lawyer and the conversation was not complete. This all got me really confused and I came up with a sound idea. I thought of calling the actual cybercrime department and confirming the case. So, we searched the contact no. through internet and called there.

The phone was received by a policeman who mentioned his identity and post.

I asked him if anyone had called us from the department and shared all that happened.

"Okay. There's a person in our department whose name is XYZ. I'll ask him and call you back." he said.

After five minutes, there was a call from the department and what the police said was unexpected.

He said, "No, XYZ hadn't called you."

We were all shocked.

"So, what can we do now? Who was the caller? He knows my mother's Facebook profile. So, what if he does anything wrong?" I got nervous.

"If so, change your mother's Facebook and other accounts' password. Use a strong one. And yes, we can proceed further only if you give us the number of the caller."

"Okay sir." I cut the call.

I did as he suggested. I used a strong password and logged it out of all devices. We searched the call history on the telephone. We searched over and over. To our surprise, the caller's number was not recorded. We couldn't find anything about the caller.

So, I called at the department. The number was going busy. After a while, the same policeman received the call.

"It's so surprising, sir. The caller's no. has not been recorded in our telephone. Can anything like this happen?" I asked.

"Yes, such telephones exist. And we give such phones to selective people only. This should not have happened." He got astonished and still continued, "There was a call immediately after yours. And they, too reported the same case as yours. Now, I feel like, the caller was a fraud. Since we don't have the caller's no., we can't do anything further. Give me your name and number. If we need, we'll call you later. But right now, we can't do anything." saying this he cut the phone. It has been a week now. We've not had any calls. Neither from the policeman nor from the stranger. On the special day, someone tried to fool us. We also discussed about what his intentions probably were. We came up with a conclusion that, the person was a fraud and had ill intentions but when he came to know that my mom is a lawyer, he couldn’t proceed and cut the call. We informed our relatives about what happened to us and made them aware.

 

Amidst this sorrowful situation where the entire world is going through such misery created by (COVID 19), there are some people who are seeking to take advantage of such situation. Although our family was aware and educated, we got deceived at first and couldn't catch it the very first time. What if it had happened to the other uneducated family? They could have been misled very easily and might have been victimized, too. The caller could easily fulfill his intentions. So, it is necessary to become aware on such things. I learnt a very big lesson this year. I'm sharing this with my sisters so that they can be aware and also can inform other people on such issues. If I get any further information about the case, I'll let you know about it.

Dear sisters, let's stay strong and also aware at the same time during this difficult time!!

This story was submitted in response to Dispatches from the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Comments 24

Log in or register to post comments
Jill Langhus
Apr 20
Apr 20

Hello Dear Sampada,

How are you and your family doing, dear? Thanks for sharing your informative post and bringing more awareness on this disturbing trend. I'm sorry you had to go through this, but I am glad, though, that your family realized it was a scam and acted accordingly. There's definitely an influx of scams going on now. We're receiving daily fraudulent emails for a start. It's really a new low, isn't it? Taking advantage of people when there's already so much anxiety and so much going on for everyone.

I hope you and your family are safe and well, dear.

XX

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi lovely Jill,
We're all good, dear. Thanks for asking!
Yeah, that's true. Even my sister, who's a medical professional has been receiving such mails and calls. This is really a bad thing to happen at this difficult time. We must be aware of such things!
Stay safe, dear!
Sampada

Jill Langhus
Apr 22
Apr 22

Hello Love,

Great to hear! You're very welcome:-)

Yes, I totally agree with you on both counts.

You, too, dear!

XX

Arem
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi Sampada,
I hope you and your family are safe and well!! Thank you for sharing your story!!! I had chills reading it. I can't imagine feeling so threatened! Hope the perpetrator gets caught soon.
You're right - as sisters, we must stay strong and be aware during this difficult time.
Sending you love!

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hello dear Arem,
Yes, we're fine dear! Thanks for asking.
Yeah, we were too much scared and nervous at that time. I can't express what we felt on having such issues for the first time, that too, on the day of New Year.
We must be aware and inform others about these issues.
You and your family too, stay safe, dear sister.
With love,
Sampada

BABARA ACHU
Apr 21
Apr 21

Thanks so much dear for sharing your experience. Reading this has open my eyes to many other cyber crime activities. hope you and your family are safe

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi dear Babara,
Thanks for reading.
I'm happy that my experience can help my international sisters stay aware on such things.
Stay safe, dear.
Lots of love from Nepal,
Sampada

Chi8629
Apr 21
Apr 21

Thank you dear sister for sharing. Stay safe.

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi sister Chioma,
Thanks for reading.
Hope you and your family are safe and well!
Sampada

Lily Habesha
Apr 21
Apr 21

Dear Sampada,
When I just started reading your stories, i knew the guy was a scum. They are busy even in the time like this. I'd been facing three of them in this season, but I was not being used or trapped by their ....
Some persons are just born heartless, what can we do?

Good you share this to many of us, this can help others to protect their families and friends.

Lily

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi Lily,
How are you and your family, dear?
Yeah, such people are taking advantage even in this situation.
It's so sad that we can't do anything and just face it like in my situation.
Sampada

Beth Lacey
Apr 21
Apr 21

It is unbelievable that these bad actors could prey on people at such an unfortunate time. We must all be watchful

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi Beth,
Yes, you're right. We should remain aware.
Stay safe,dear!

KatrinaTahoe
Apr 21
Apr 21

I had a similar experience when I was younger, and it took me 20 minutes into the call to realize what was happening. I'm so happy you realized it was a scam, and you should be proud of yourselves for sharing!

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 21
Apr 21

Hi Katrina,
Oh, that was so good of you that you were able to realize it even at a young age,
Thanks for reading!!
Hope you and your family are safe and well, dear!
Sampada

Emma Sheller
Apr 22
Apr 22

Hi Sampada
Well done for thinking on your feet when the person on the phone was so clearly trying to scare you. Sometimes they can be so convincing that it is easy to do what is asked. Good on you for following up with the authorities and sharing your story so others might recognize some of these actions if they are in a similar situation.
Take care
Emma

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 23
Apr 23

Hello Emma,
Yeah, I was lucky enough to identify the fraud. Truly, dear, the person was so convincing that I could hardly doubt on him.
Thanks and you too, stay safe,dear!
Sampada

ARREY- ECHI
Apr 22
Apr 22

Dear Sampada,
Thank you so much for sharing this with us. I am sorry about your family's ordeal at a time when we all have much to content with. Thank you for the alert and the need for us all to be vigilant. Cyber crime is gaining grounds and sadly, it may peak this time around.

Human nature is always such that while some may try to think ways to assist others in times like this, there are some who see it as opportunities to fleece others.
I am happy it was resolved without much incident to your family and I pray you all stay strong and safe.

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 23
Apr 23

Hi Arrey,
It is my pleasure that I have a platform where I can share my story in this time, too when I cannot even go out of my house and also can aware many sisters around the world.
You are right. The issues related to cyber crime are increasing these days. So, It's necesary to stay alert and make others aware, too.
Thanks, dear.
Hope you and your family are safe and well!
Sampada

MUKABA ZAWADI
Apr 23
Apr 23

thank you for this beautiful sharing on the interne

Sampada Sapkota
Apr 23
Apr 23

Hi dear Mukaba,
Thanks for reading this.
Stay safe,dear.

ANJ ANA
Apr 28
Apr 28

Dear Sampada,
Thank you for sharing your story. I am so sorry that you had to face difficult and tensed environment in the new year. Its good that you contact to crime department at right time and got good suggestions. I hope there were no further call from the unknown caller after on. Please keep your presence of mind and continue being bit more alert. Take care and stay safe.
best regards, anjana

Sampada Sapkota
May 01
May 01

Hi dear sis,
Thanks for reading!
Yeah, that was kind of my luck that I was able to catch the fraud!
Yeah, I've not received other calls yet. Thanks di for your suggestion.
Hope you and your family are safe and well!
Regards,
Sampada

lemonadelemon
Aug 30
Aug 30

Good sharing and stay save