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Extortion racket by faking accidents

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The following was posted by a resident on our apartment complex WhatsApp group:
 
Thought I should share an incident that happened today as I was going to work (around 9 AM, Monday, 26th Aug, '19); and some thoughts. Might help others.
 
I was in my car near the Lal Bagh area when I heard a sound on the left rear of the car. I am now pretty sure that someone had hit the car with his hand. I checked in my side view mirror. All seemed to be fine. There were two people on a scooter - they had not fallen off; were still driving. So I continued to drive. I was chased and asked to stop. They started to shout at me; one of them said he was in severe pain; had a broken bone and had to be taken to a hospital. Everything looked fine to me but I still offered to take him to a hospital that he said was nearby, to get him checked. He kept abusing me all the way. Asked me to stop at some place. Said that this was his “adda”. Also said his brother was a right hand man for a senior BJP member. He asked for a large amount of money which I refused to pay.  I said that I would take him to a hospital. They threatened me, snatched away my mobile and tried to take my car keys.They also looked around for anything they could get their hands on in the car. Tried to break the rear view mirror; said they would smash the windscreen. He made a call and said that he was calling his thugs; threatened me physically. I said I had very little money with me. They took me to the ATM across the road and to withdraw some money; they did not get inside the ATM. I was then let off after I gave them some amount that was negotiated.
 
I have been thinking about this and I think I should have done two things differently. This I may suggest to others it this happens to them. I have now been told that this is a racket going around in Bangalore.
 
1) Stop immediately if there are other people around, get out of the car and lock the car. Wait for some policeman to arrive. Call someone on the phone to come over. Do not let the person get into the car.
 
2) If the person is visibly and seriously injured (and this may be bit difficult to determine) then take him to a nearby hospital.
 
This was followed by many posts expressing concern, and some offering advice, and some narrating their own experiences too, as below:
 
LR: Apart from the 2 things that you have suggested, another thing that may help is to start honking to call for attention and this scare them away also. Yes, you should never open the car door for any stranger. Report this to police.
 
NN: Oh, bloody hell. This same thing happened to me near the yoga class turning last month.  Every detail was the same. I too paid up since the sob was damaging the car by punching the roof. He physically hit me on the chest as well which I ignored since he claimed that he had fractured his foot. Nobody interfers since they believe that you have injured the two wheeler rider.
 
I'm still in two minds. I've still got a contact into which I transferred funds. They erased my apps after they received the money but I got a notification with the receivers number
 
I have a name and account number. But I didn't know if the guy was fibbing
 
Ms K: If they erased your apps after receiving money then they are criminals.
 
LR: Hmm...in any similar situation, where you are threatened, it is better to catch attention of passersby by honking continuously, also the honking can scare them away.
 
SP: Something similar had happened to me and my friend when we were driving back from work. Guys on the bike came stopped in front of the car bcoz they thought I was too close to them n were abusing, they removed their cell and started taking pics of the car number and us, but then my friend started making a video of them, and I was honking constantly ...the video got them little scared and then they left
 
MsS: So many similar stories! Happened with my husband near Magnus but this was a couple of years back. He was taken to the nearby ATM and made to withdraw money
 
MsK: I had a similar experience some time back on a lonely stretch. A taxi touched my car from behind and said that it got a scratch since I braked suddenly. I rolled down the window only by 1 cm to say sorry. The taxi driver was getting aggressive. So I said let’s go to the police station. While going to the police station, when the taxi driver turned at the signal, I took a different turn and came home. It is important to not roll down the window, so that they cannot take anything. Keep mentioning police as many times as possible. I lucked out because the taxi guy was alone. If you are alone and there are two people then you are in losing battle.
 
AG: I've been observing that the cab drivers have formed a large Telegram group (> 40K members). They use this group to coordinate if they get into a scrap with other cars drivers, especially "White board" cars. The modus operandi is to gather 2-3 drivers nearby and bully the driver into paying up.
 
MrS:  I too had a similar encounter at Bank of Maharashtra (Near Nilgiris) a couple of months ago. Uber Eats delivery boy driving crazy on his bike bumped into my car and fell down. Immediately 4-5 people rushed from the bank and started clicking my car number. The Uber Eats guy told that his motor cycle got damaged and asked me to come to his friends mechanic shop at HSR Layout. When I told my wife, she immediately called the laundry guy and requested him to go and help me. Negotiated with that guy for ₹5K and got out of the mess.
 
He kept calling me saying that the repair charges costed more and demanded 10 k extra from me. My friends wife is Asst Comm of Police, Jayanagar and she requested the station in-charge at Koramangala Police Station to help me out. 
 
The mistake I made was that I was forced to share my cell number and the gang checked whether it was genuine or fake. Bangalore is no more a peaceful place to stay
 
SN: Had a similar incident. They got my details from the RTO & came upto our gate to ask for more money even after I had already paid for his treatment & agreed amount for damages. I felt I was being targeted because I am not a local..Mr Murali (that's me - my advantage being my ability to speak Kannada, as also being engaged as I am with Govt officials through my Civil Society activities) is my go-to person in such situations. He came & handled those people for me.
 
Also it's always handy to have the number of any police Inspector.
 
SR: It is concerning to see so many incidences. Would have been extremely tough on the people who went thru these bad experiences. Some of you have good connects with local police here. Would be great if you can urge them to publish clear Dos and Don'ts which can be socialised thru WhatsApp grps including a helpline number if they have one.
 
VP: First and foremost do not open the car door. Discretely take a picture and send it to folks on WhatsApp groups or FB live. Call police immediately. Stay calm.
 
NS: What about calling the emergency number? Hoysala? Does that work?
 
LR: Why don't we use our influence and call a police inspector to our complex and have a session with him? We will tell our experiences and let him give us dos and donuts and whom to call in such situations. Since we have had so many people in our community targetted.
 
NN: Mr Murali - Is it possible to get a police officer of a reasonable high standing in the force to visit us and take a first hand FIR of all the victims of this kind of crime? I've noticed that it involves ladies and single middle aged or grey-haired men. I'm sure, the complainants wouldn't want to be further victimized by going to the PS and filing a complaint. I've got certain details which could move this further. Any suggestions?
 
The victims, even the Kannadiga's amongst them, have been generally reluctant to approach the police, fearing reprisals from the goonda's, sometime or the other. While on the one hand, this reflects poorly on the police, in that they do not inspire confidence in the citizens to safeguard their legitimate interests, the question also arises as to what the police can do, when the citizens don't come forward to even report the matter to them. 
 
Looks like a typical chicken and egg story. But, somewhere along it has to be corrected, lest we land up like in UP, etc, where violence of all kinds has become the order of the day. Well, why not try that now, when we have a most approachable city Police Commissioner in Mr Bhaskar Rao (no relation of mine)? 
 
Muralidhar Rao
 

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murali772's picture

NewsMinute report, and beyond

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None of Neeta, Arvind or Sumith filed a police complaint for fear of backlash from d men who took d money from them. The fact that d man from Neeta’s case ended up finding her address also made them worried about their safety and that of their families.
 
As to whether it’s could be an organised crime, police is not so sure.
 
Both DCP South East Isha Pant and DCP South Rohini Katoch Sepat, under whose jurisdictions Koramangala and Lalbagh respectively fall, told TNM that they have not received complaints about such kind of extortions on the pretext of injury caused in a road accident.
 
Both of them encouraged the victims to come forward and file a complaint with the police. “Without an FIR, we can’t cannot really proceed against such persons,” the police officials said. 
 
For the full text of the report in The News Minute, click here
 
Subsequent to the publishing of this report, I tweeted as below to the Commissioner of Police, Bangalore, citing the 1st para above:
 
considering these facts, shouldn't the police suo-motu file a case and take up investigations, particularly in view of the fact that these are not quote isolated cases?
 
Well, not sure what more I can do.
Muralidhar Rao

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