Scamster impersonating Goa Governor texts journalists for money; Crime Branch begins probe

Panaji: The Crime Branch of the Goa Police has started a probe after a person claiming to be the state’s Governor PS Sreedharan Pillai sent WhatsApp messages to several journalists, requesting urgent payment via Google or Amazon Pay.

“The unknown person appears to have impersonated as the honourable Governor on WhatsApp. Several messages have been sent to journalists since Friday evening seeking money. We are carrying out technical analysis based on the messages we have received to track down the accused,” a Crime Branch official said on Saturday.

On Friday evening, mobile phones of several journalists pinged, with the Governor’s display picture popping up on their screens, with a discreet “Hello”.

“Initially when I saw the DP, I thought it was the Governor himself, because we have been in touch with the Raj Bhavan over the past few days for official purposes,” Joel Afonso, Editor of The Goan, a local English daily, told IANS.

“Later when the person spoke about sending him money via Amazon pay, I thought a Governor will not stoop to this level. I communicated the potential fraud to the officials at Raj Bhavan,” Afondo said.

Gerard D’Souza, who writes for The Hindustan Times from Goa, was also contacted by the same profile.

“I was taken aback to receive a message from a WhatsApp profile with the Governor’s picture inquiring about me… At first I thought it was a genuine message given that the Governor is known to love an interaction with journalists.

“However, scepticism took over and on scrutiny, errors in how he spelt his name in the profile led me to believe it was a fake account. One hopes that the police will get to the bottom of this,” he added.

In July last year, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant’s Facebook account too was cloned and requests for money via UPI were sent to several persons across Goa.

In November, unknown persons also tried to phish Sawant’s bank details when the Chief Minister was on an official visit to Delhi.

“I was also surprised by this. I was wondering why? I flipped open my purse and even pulled out my Aadhar card, then it suddenly occurred to me, why should I share my Aadhar card number, let my account be frozen. No issues. So I did not share my Aadhar card number,” the Chief Minister had said then.


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