Dialling a wine shop for Old Monk? Cheats will raise a toas…


Fraudsters replace wine shops’ contact details on web search engines with their phone numbers and ask victims to make the payment through e-wallets.

It’s the weekend and the weather’s perfect to call for a cold beer or a bottle of rum from the shop next door. There’s a chance you’ll be fleeced if you have sourced the shop’s number from the internet. Tipplers calling for home delivery from wine shops are targeted by a group of fraudsters who replace the shops’ contact details with their phone numbers on web search engines and ask the callers to transfer money through e-wallets.

The Mumbai Police are investigating at least six such complaints, while the Maharashtra Wine Merchants’ Association has said that more than a dozen wine shops have approached it saying their business listings have been changed online.

The cops said that complaints have been submitted to police stations in Bandra, Khar, Santacruz, Ghatkopar and Chembur. “There are scores of apps that enable a user to make changes in the business listing information on search engines. Ideally, the search engines should notify the shop owners or the managers every time a change has been made, but in most cases, such a notification is not sent, or the shop owners and their staff don’t bother to check,” an officer who is investigating one of the complaints said.

Bandra resident Neeraj Kollah told Mumbai Mirror that he was fleeced of Rs 1,300 after he dialled a number that was listed in the name of a wellknown wine shop in his area. “I found the number on the internet and the person at the other end asked me to pay through e-wallet. He even assured a speedy delivery. After an hour when I called up to check on my order, he said there was a problem and he needed my bank account details to refund the money. That’s when I realised he was a cheat. I traced the location of the mobile device through an app and it showed he was in Rajasthan,” Kollah said. “I have come to know about more people who have been conned by the same person,” he said.

Similarly, a resident of Chembur said she approached the Tilak Nagar police after being fleeced. “I kept waiting for the bottles that never arrived,” she said. A senior officer from Tilak Nagar Police Station said a first information report will be filed soon.

Meanwhile, the shop owners said such incidents were a blow to their business because the patrons stopped buying from them after a bitter experience. Dilip Gyanani, president of the Maharashtra Wine Merchants Association, said all liquor store owners in the state have been asked to monitor the search engines and update their contact details.

Bali Rekhi, vice-president of the association, said five wine shop owners have complained about such fraud in the last three months. “Verbal complaints have also come in from Powai and Andheri. We want to tell the public that very few wine shops accept deliver requests, and those who do will only accept cash,” Rekhi said.

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