At least 1000 people across India were duped of over Rs 40 lakh by an international syndicate that allegedly created a fake website, after cloning the official website of the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Hindustan Times reported.
This happened soon after the country announced world's largest COVID-19 vaccination drive in mid-January. The syndicate offered inoculation to individuals at a cost of Rs 4000- Rs 6000 per shot, the Delhi Police said on Friday.
The fake website was blocked in the first week of February and two separate cases were filed by the Delhi police- one in February by the cybercrime unit and the other by the South Avenue police station in April.
After this, at least eight more fake websites, which offered vaccination slots on payment, have been blocked in the past fortnight. The police said that the links to these sites were distributed on social media.
"These links directed people to fake websites or prompted them to download mobile applications for registering themselves for the vaccination. The objective of these websites was to either dupe people of money or to steal their personal and banking data," said Anyesh Roy, deputy commissioner of police, CyPAD.
According to investigators, the fake website was created by copying the metadata of the original ministry's site. The fake website is an exact clone of the official website, down to the India state emblem. The only difference between the two websites was the "Appointment for Vaccination" section -- this is not there on the original ministry site.
This apart, several cases where fake Remdesivir injections were sold in many parts of India have been reported. The local crime branch of Morbi in Gujarat recently busted an alleged State-wide racket of fake Remdesivir injections. The Ahmedabad Crime Branch has so far booked 8 persons in this connection of which seven are arrested.
Similarly, a pharma company executive trying to sell fake Remdesivir vials on the road at Shivajinagar, in Bengaluru was caught recently by the police.
In another incident, a doctor at a Public Health Centre in Manjunathnagar in Karnataka's Bengaluru was arrested on Thursday for allegedly administering the vaccine at her associate's house. Likewise, two doctors of a PHC in Chamarajpet were arrested for allegedly issuing fake COVID-19 negative certificates and 'illegally' selling Remdesivir vials.