Online romance scams on the rise as dating apps proliferate

Agencies
May 17, 2020

As millions of people get hooked to online dating platforms, their proliferation has led to online romance scams becoming a modern form of fraud that have spread in several societies along with the development of social media like Facebook Dating, warn researchers.

For example, extra-marital dating app Gleeden has crossed 10 lakh users in India in COVID-19 times while dating apps like Tinder and Bumble have gained immense popularity.

According to researchers from University of Siena and Scotte University Hospital led by Dr Andrea Pozza, via a fictitious Internet profile, the scammer develops a romantic relationship with the victim for 6-8 months, building a deep emotional bond to extort economic resources in a manipulative dynamic.

"There are two notable features: on the one hand, the double trauma of losing money and a relationship, on the other, the victim's shame upon discovery of the scam, an aspect that might lead to underestimation of the number of cases," the authors wrote in a paper published in the journal Clinical Practice & Epidemiology in Mental Health.

Around 1,400 dating sites/chats have been created over the last decade in North America alone. In the UK, 23 per cent of Internet users have met someone online with whom they had a romantic relationship for a certain period and even 6 per cent of married couples met through the web.

"The online dating industry has given rise to new forms of pathologies and crime, said the authors.

The results showed that 63 per cent of social media users and 3 per cent of the general population reported having been a victim at least once.

Women, middle-aged people, and individuals with higher tendencies to anxiety, romantic idealization of affective relations, impulsiveness and susceptibility to relational addiction are at higher risk of being victims of the scam.

Online romance scams are, in other words, relationships constructed through websites for the purpose of deceiving unsuspecting victims in order to extort money from them.

The scammer always acts empathetically and attempts to create the impression in the victim that the two are perfectly synced in their shared view of life.

"The declarations of the scammer become increasingly affectionate and according to some authors, a declaration of love is made within two weeks from initial contact," the study elaborated.

After this hookup phase, the scammer starts talking about the possibility of actually meeting up, which will be postponed several times due to apparently urgent problems or desperate situations such as accidents, deaths, surgeries or sudden hospitalizations for which the unwitting victim will be manipulated into sending money to cover the momentary emergency.

Using the strategy of "testing-the-water", the scammer asks the victim for small gifts, usually to ensure the continuance of the relationship, such as a webcam, which, if successful, leads to increasingly expensive gifts up to large sums of money.

When the money arrives from the victim, the scammer proposes a new encounter.

The request for money can also be made to cover the travel costs involved in the illusory meeting. In this phase, the victim may start having second thoughts or showing doubt about the intentions of the partner and gradually decide to break off the relationship.

"In other cases, the fraudulent relationship continues or even reinforces itself as the victim, under the influence of ambivalent emotions of ardor and fear of abandonment and deception, denies or rationalizes doubts to manage their feelings," said the study.

In some cases, the scammer may ask the victim to send intimate body photos that will be used as a sort of implicit blackmail to further bind the victim to the scammer.

Once the scam is discovered, the emotional reaction of the victim may go through various phases: feelings of shock, anger or shame, the perception of having been emotionally violated (a kind of emotional rape), loss of trust in people, a sensation of disgust towards oneself or the perpetrator of the crime and a feeling of mourning.

"Understanding the psychological characteristics of victims and scammers will allow at-risk personality profiles to be identified and prevention strategies to be developed," the authors suggested.

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Media Release
September 11,2020

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Nagpur: American Oncology Institute (AOI) at Nangia Specialty Hospital has launched a new Breast Cancer Clinic to provide quality care with an affordable treatment plan. This service helps and support patients with any breast-related queries and ensures awareness of comprehensive breast cancer screening.

“Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide. Our clinic ensures, people understand the importance of regular cancer screening and benefit the state-of-the-art cancer treatment at an affordable cost. This will help us to treat patients sooner and with greater precision", says Dr. Amit Dhawan, Regional Director, American Oncology Institute, Nagpur.

As an introductory package, the Hospital is offering “Beat Breast Cancer Package”, which includes Clinical and Diagnostic examination (FNAC or biopsy, mammography or USG) for Rs 2000/- with free doctor consultation till September 30, 2020.

A strong team of doctors comprising of Surgical, Medical and Radiation oncologists, along with group of trained nurses ensures the patient receives the best medical care possible.

About American Oncology Institute:

American Oncology Institute is the leading cancer care provider across South Asia operating a chain of cancer hospitals in multiple cities across South Asia. AOI today is a wholly owned subsidiary of Varian Medical Systems (NYSE: VAR).

The team of clinical, paraclinical and healthcare operations experts pride themselves with the aim of closing the gap between standards of cancer care in South Asia and the developed cancer hospitals in the West. AOI provides comprehensive cancer management that is powered by clinical excellence, world class technology as well as best in class clinical pathways and protocols for treatment planning and execution, providing best in-class quality in cancer care across South Asia.

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Agencies
September 10,2020

Mumbai, Sept 10: Markets roared back to life on Thursday after two days of declines as Reliance Industries ratcheted higher on reports that the company is offering to sell a substantial stake in its retail arm to Amazon.

The 30-share BSE Sensex soared 646.40 points or 1.69 per cent to finish at 38,840.32.

The broader NSE Nifty rallied 171.25 points or 1.52 per cent to close at 11,449.25.

Market heavyweight Reliance Industries surged to its lifetime high during the session after reports said the company has held discussions with Amazon for the retail arm stake sale.

The Mukesh Ambani-led firm is reportedly offering as much as 40 per cent stake in its retail subsidiary to Amazon, which is seeking to expand its presence in the Indian market.

On Wednesday, Reliance had announced that US private equity firm Silver Lake Partners would buy 1.75 per cent stake in its retail arm for Rs 7,500 crore.

RIL stock jumped 8.45 per cent to a record high of Rs 2,343.90 on the BSE on Thursday. The company's market valuation rose to Rs 14,66,589.53 crore (USD 199.64 billion) in late afternoon trade.

The stock finally ended 7.10 per cent higher, accounting for most of the Sensex's gains.

Asian Paints, Axis Bank, UltraTech Cement, IndusInd Bank and Bajaj Finance were among the other index gainers, spurting up to 4.25 per cent.

On the other hand, Tata Steel, Bharti Airtel, Kotak Bank, Titan and HDFC Bank closed in the red, shedding up to 2.24 per cent.

"Indian indices again had a strong showing today backed by strong gains in the shares of RIL, which alone contributed to more than half of the gains seen on Nifty. Suitors lining up for potential stake sale in Reliance Retail drove its gains today. Positive global cues also palyed a part in the broader positivity seen in the markets.

"European markets have turned cautious ahead of the ECB policy meeting happening today. Investors seems to have kept the simmering border tensions on the backburner for now and, in the absence of fresh triggers, will look at global markets and stock specific news for direction," said Vinod Nair, Head of Research at Geojit Financial Services.

BSE energy index rallied 6.26 per cent, followed by oil and gas, basic materials, industrials, finance and capital goods.

On the other hand, telecom and metal fell up to 1.42 per cent.

Broader BSE mid-cap and small-cap indices surged up to 1.27 per cent.

In rest of Asia, bourses in Shanghai and Hong Kong ended in the red, while Seoul and Tokyo closed higher.

Stock exchanges in Europe were trading on a mixed note ahead of the European Central Bank's policy decision.

Global oil benchmark Brent crude was trading 1.27 per cent lower at USD 40.27 per barrel.

In the forex market, the rupee strengthened by 9 paise to end at 73.46 against the US dollar.

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Agencies
September 11,2020

New Delhi, Sept 11: The Centre has constituted an expert panel for assessment of relief required by bank borrowers on loans taken during moratorium, in the wake of the pandemic. The committee has been formed under the chairmanship of former Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Rajiv Mehrishi. 

The development comes after the Supreme Court on Thursday asked the Centre to consider a plea for not charging interest and interest on interest on deferred EMIs during the moratorium period and also not downgrade the credit and asset classification of the borrowers.

A Finance Ministry statement said: "Various concerns have been raised during the proceedings of the ongoing hearing in Supreme Court of India, in the matter of Gajendra Sharma Vs. UoI and Others, of the matter regarding the relief sought in terms of waiver of interest and waiver of interest on interest and other related issues."

"Government has accordingly constituted an Expert Committee for making an overall assessment so that its decisions in this regard are better informed."

The committee, to be headed by Mehrishi, also includes former IIM-Ahmedabad professor and former member, Monetary Policy Committee of the Reserve Bank of India, Ravindra H. Dholakia, and former Managing Director, State Bank of India and IDBI Bank, B. Sriram. The State Bank of India (SBI) will provide secretarial support to the committee.

The terms of reference of the committee would include measuring the impact on the national economy and financial stability of waiving of interest and waiving of interest on the COVID-19 related moratorium.

It would also provide suggestions to mitigate financial constraints of various sections of society in this respect and measures to be adopted in this regard.

The committee will submit its report within one week and may consult banks or other stakeholders, as deemed necessary, for the purpose, said the official statement.

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