impersonation law online
Puneet Bhasin
impersonation law online
Puneet Bhasin

This article was written by Advocate Puneet Bhasin, a cyber lawyer and founder of Cyberjure Consulting. Over to Puneet.

In the cyber age the traditional love marriages and arranged marriages are replaced by online affairs and digitally arranged marriages. Cyberspace has made getting into relationships pretty easy. There are online dating websites and online matrimonial websites, where you simply fill in your partner requirements and get a list of prospective compatible matches. Most of these are paid services. The advent of relationships through the internet has changed the structure, functioning and sustainability of relationships in India. Cyberspace brings with it many dangers like anonymity and lack of personal contact, both of which are key ingredients to healthy relationships in the real world.

There are many instances of fake or misrepresented Facebook/social media profiles and matrimonial profiles on online portals. Posting incorrect information on age, religion or marital status are the most common problems in online marriage portals, as is lying about salary. According to informal estimates by a few divorce lawyers in my circle, nearly half of marital break-ups involve partners who met online and about seven cases out of every 10 that are of marriages arranged through matrimonial websites.

A big reason for this is Cyber Personation, which is made very  easy with the advent of online portals for relationships. People can write anything on their virtual profiles without scrutiny.

In May 2012, two men were arrested in Madurai for cheating women on online matrimonial websites with the promise of marrying them. Most of their victims were well-educated and working in the IT sector, while some were even living abroad. Their modus operandi was that they would make a very good online matrimonial profile and after establishing contact as a prospective bridegroom, they used to befriend the girls through social networking chats and the mobile.

Further, they used the magic voice option on the mobile phone to pose as parents of the groom. After gaining their confidence, they used to demand money from the girls and asked them to deposit the cash in bank accounts. After collecting the money, they used to disconnect all communication with the girls and create new profiles to attract further victims. Apparently they even blackmailed a few victims by taking semi-nude photographs of them through a webcam while chatting, to extract money from the girls.

There are many cases where people realize that they are the victims of this cyber crime after they are already married to such fraudsters, when it turns out that the online matrimonial profiles of their spouse had completely fake details.

However, there is legal recourse for victims of such cheating.

Section 66-D of the Information Technology Act, 2000 provides for punishment for cheating by personation by using a computer resource. This legal provision reads as under:

“Whoever, by means for any communication device or computer resource cheats by personating, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to three years and shall also be liable to fine which may extend to one lakh rupees.”

This provision envisages that if a person assumes the character or appearance which is not what he really is or passes oneself off as someone he really is not, especially with fraudulent intent, then the victim can file a complaint before the Adjudicating Officer under this provision. The victim can be awarded a fine of upto 1 lakh Rupees.

The Rules under the Information Technology Act provide that the Adjudicating Officer is required to hear and decide an application in 4 months, and the whole matter has to be decided in 6 months.

The online dating and matrimonial portals can also be held liable under the Information Technology Act as there are certain liabilities associated with “Intermediaries” under the Information Technology Act.

The Online Service Providers being “Intermediaries” can be held liable under Section 79 (3) (a) of the Information Technology Act, 2000 if:

the intermediary has conspired or abetted or aided or induced, whether by threats or promise or otherwise in the commission of the unlawful act.”

The matrimonial websites do promise suitable matches and keep emailing the same to the registered users, and also at times charge for specialized services of match making whereby they are presumed to have verified the credentials of the parties, thereby making them liable under the Information Technology Act, 2000.

Also, along with action under the Information Technology Act, it is advisable to simultaneously file an FIR under Section 415, 416, 417, 419 and 420 of the Indian Penal Code. All these sections deal with cheating and cheating by personation.

If you are a victim of such a cyber crime, then there is legal recourse available under the Information Technology Act against the fraudster and the Intermediary. You can directly file a complaint before the Adjudicating Officer, Ministry of Information Technology, Information Technology Act, 2000. The format for the complaint is below, and is required to be on a plain paper and submitted along with the fees payable, which is calculated on the basis of damages claimed by way of compensation. You can file this complaint on your own, without a lawyer being involved – but it is advisable to take help of a lawyer in the trial stage at least.

The real face behind the fake profile can be traced through the IP address or bank account details used to make paid profiles online.

 Complaint Format

THE GAZETTE OF INDIA

EXTRAORDINARY

Part II

Section 3, Sub-Section (i)

MINISTRY OF COMMUNICATIONS AND INFORMATION

TECHNOLOGY

(Department of Information Technology)

NOTIFICATION

New Delhi, 17th March, 2003

APPENDIX

PROFORMA FOR COMPLAINT TO ADJUDICATING OFFICER

UNDER INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY ACT

2000

I  1. Name of the Complainant

2. E-mail address

3. Telephone No.

4. Address for correspondence

5. Digital Signature Certificate, if any

II  1. Name of the Respondent

2. E-mail address

3. Telephone No.

4. Address for correspondence

5. Digital Signature Certificate, if any

III  Damages claimed

Fee deposited

Demand Draft No.____________dated __________Branch_______

IV  Complaint under Section/Rule/Direction/Order etc.

V  Time of Contravention

VI Place of Contravention

VII Cause of action

VIII Brief facts of the case

 

(Signature of the Complainant)

 

The fees payable is determined in the following manner:

  Every complaint of a matter to the Adjudicating Officer shall be accompanied by Application fee of Rs. 50/- and fee towards damages claimed by way of compensation from the contraveners, payable by a bank draft drawn in favour of “Adjudicating Officer Information Technology Act” at Mumbai, Maharashtra, calculated on the basis on the rates provided below.

I. Damages by way of compensation Fee
a. Upto Rs.10,000 10% ad valorem rounded off to nearest next hundred
b. From 10001 to Rs. 50000 Rs. 1000 plus 5% of the amount exceeding Rs. 10,000 rounded off to nearest next hundred
c. From Rs. 50001 to Rs. 100000 Rs. 3000/- plus 4% of the amount exceeding Rs. 50,000 rounded off to nearest next hundred
d. More than Rs. 100000 Rs.5000/- plus 2% of the amount exceeding Rs. 100,000 rounded off to nearest next hundred
II. Fee for Every Application Rs.50/-

 

The Complaint along with the fees in case of jurisdiction being Mumbai, is required to be submitted to: Adjudicating Officer, c/o Directorate of Information Technology, 7th Floor, Mantralaya, Madam Cama Road, Hutatma Rajguru Chowk, Nariman Point, Mumbai – 400021

 

 

 

12 COMMENTS

  1. I recently met a guy named Satyam singh 8452913769 from muzaffarpur, bihar twitter handle @armyamar33 via shaadi.com he pretended to be a colonel in Indian army and mentioned his name as Col. Amarjeet Singh. He is a frauster as he is using someone’s identity. Satyam singh aka Amarjeet singh has a facebook id with the name of satyam singh from muzaffarpur. To my surprise after 3 months i came to know he is married for 12 years and has a daughter. He was an active member on shaadi.com. looking at his facebook id i can say that his married life is all well. Shaadi.com and all other matrimony sites should verify the identity of the members by personal visits. Please check his profile on facebook. Beware of such fraudsters and conduct investigations before you proceed further

  2. I am living in Kolkata, India. One person named Ryan Krishna number +1251-230-4020, Alabama (I met him online on Bharat matrimony site ID H7951477, not physically) sent a parcel to India which had cash dollars ($250,000), on 12 November 2019, through Speedway Courier Service. He told he is a surgeon in Alabama and USA citizen and currently posted in Israel for United Nation Peace Keeping Force.
    Next morning the courier service called and asked for 35000 as delivery charge of the parcel. they never sent any document only sent bank account details to transfer money, so i transferred 35000, afterwards they kept asking for money sometimes as anti-terrorist charge of 98000, then Tax+insurance charge of 80000, then 75000 as yellow tag at airport, finally 150000 as dollar to Indian Rupee conversion charge. Total of Rs 438,000 they have taken, now they have sent an email from a fake mail ID [email protected] which had the link of an activation code, That asked for 250,000 to unlock the activation code. They said after unlocking the code all the money will be transferred to INR. And as this is a huge amount they had to go through such process. I have denied them and asked for refund of my total money spent. Please advise me what to do now. I have become a victim of fraudulent case. I have all bank transfer details.
    In this way he fooled me in the name of marriage and total they took INR 530,000 ($7350) from me forcefully. I have complained to police here in our city. I am mailing to let you know as his number is of Alabama +1251-230-4020.
    My family consists of me, my old mother and sister. I work in a private firm. Now after this incident i am starving. I had saved all this money for my family.

  3. Hello Everyone,
    I wanted to report about the following Fake profile.Actually he is cheater and he cheated many as I know.
    Name: Uday Kiran Pasem
    Matrimony ID: DVM1910958
    Email address: [email protected]
    Situation: First thing he is not completely divorced and he applied for the divorce and he never mentioned in the profile he has a kid ( Girl Child – her name Myra). I get to know this information later. He told me his mother is so serious he is need of money, so I transferred him money. The he said I need money for the college fees and so many things.
    He is doing his MBA from Notthingham University ( He ran their to UK) because his wife put the domestic and dowry case on him .Which is actually true he did that.
    Please report this to Bharat Matrimony until they take any actions against such farud profiles

  4. FRIEND GOT SCAMMED ON NAME OF MARRIAGE WITH RS 56,800.SCAMMER IS BHAVAYA CHAWLA.AND HIS FRIEND SUNNY
    WOULD LIKE TO INCLUDE THE NUMBERS OF SCAMMER PLEASE BEWARE OF THESE NUMBERS
    8279730296
    9536530335
    6395509791
    9758858005
    9368334622
    +1805592804
    +12018222946
    Hi this is Vish from banglore recently i spoke to one of my friend from north india and this incident occured with her My friend got a profile on jeevansathi . Com .They matched the horoscope and it got so matched even the panditji was shocked and he said that this marriage alliance will definately go forward so they initiated with them. guys brother in law spoke with them first as they said that they are based out of usa since 40 years and they have big business empire der they give all the same details given in this profile to my friend .they even said that they are putting a pharma company in solan for which the groom rudra thapar is in india for couple of months my friend too believed them he started talking with my friend . two three times they spoke and said that they want to go forward with alliance and asked them ie guys family to meet so his brother in law said whos name he said is vikas but on true caller it showed ronnie u. s my friend told me . So guys brother – in – law said that first let rudra talk to my friend and get to know her so my friends parents also permitted . They started talking but he always used to say to her that he is busy with meetings as they are putting a company. Never used to tell anything about himself even deleted profile on jeevansathi giving random excuse and one day he asked for money through paytm saying that he is a u.s citizen and he cant open an account here in india and need money . My friend is an innocent girl She dont even know that such romance scams occur . Her family is a true satsang going small simple family . She got fooled with his emotional game and gave him money he spoke to her for 3 months every tym he needs money he used to tell her that he is withdrawing from her account and she was so blind in love with him she used to permit as he used to give her written proofs so she also started trusting him blindly and eventually falling in love with him meanwhile he said that his parents are coming to india and now they will meet her and the family . Her family were so happy . They said that they will come to her city . My friends family were hoping that after meeting everything will go fyn . But they didnt meet them saying that they are going to udaipur for a marriage then in returning they will meet them . Her family waited and after some days they said that they are in her city and rudras mom hs fallen sick due to travelling and all and they cant meet as they are leaving for delhi back . Meanwhile my friends parents have also left for south to attend a wedding . So rudra convinced my friend that when her parents will come back they will plan metting . My friend and her family agreed to that also .she and rudra used to talk . After her parents returned they planned and kept a meeting in delhi and asked my friend and her family to come der my friends family did visit to delhi but they didnt meet infact after visiting delhi everthing changed he didnt even spoke to her properly when she asked him to return her money . Till last jus he said that he want to go forward with alliance but need time . My friend is so shattered with this scam . After some days of this scam her parents enquired from the hotel where rudra thappar said that they stayed when they visited my friend in der city . My friend came to know that no one with name rudra thapar or raj singh thapar visited even they enquired with the company named air7seas a u.s based transport company rudra said that they are the owner but when my friends family spoke der they came to know that no one is der with this name and when she put rudras photographs in google images she came to know that those photographs are of BHAVAYA CHAWLA an enterpreneur ,body builder of faridabad.
    Many more profiles are created after on jeevansathi by these scammer after this scam I am also on http://jeevansathi.com thats why i complained against this profile and got it removed i complained on consumer forum against jeevansathi and after six months of this scam i came to know that BHAVAYA CHAWLA IS THE SCAMMER HE RUNS THIS SCAM WITH HELP OF HIS FRIEND SUNNY AND HIS OTHER FRIENDS AND FAMILY .
    I MYSELF SPOKE TO THAT SCAMMER.FOR MATRIMONIAL ALLIANCE HE TRIED TO SCAM ME ALSO SAYING THAT HIS NAME IS VISHESH AND PRESENTLY HE IS IN DUBAI BUT TRUTH IS THEY ARE PROFESSIONAL SCAMNERS PLEASE DONT COME IN THEIR TRAP
    I HAD ALREADY PUT THEIR NUMBERS PLEASE BE AWARE OF SUCH PEOPLES

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  6. You have changed my views about the cyber criminals because formerly i thought that i should not take a step towards this type of act, but now i will surely respond to this type of act just because of reading your article, thanks.

  7. after reading this tremendously prominent post, i vie for the forthcoming stories, written well proficiently, chic and all impressive ! good job guys.

      • Dear Punnet, I have recently been a victim of such matrimonial site and was about to transfer money in the bank of the fraudulent.
        I have recently observed that their a big racket going around at Jeevansatthi and Shaadi.com site to extract money from innocents. How can we high light this issue to others so that they don’t fall prey.

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