One arrested over WhatsApp scam

WhatsApp’s users are urged to stay vigilant by police to scam messages that may be popping up in the hugely popular app

A Bhutanese man has been arrested by police in Samdrup Jongkhar last week in connection to a WhatsApp scam that robbed a 47-year-old housewife in Thimphu of around Nu 80,000.

The arrest came following complaint from the housewife to the Thimphu police on Thursday.

According to the victim’s statement, she received several calls on her WhatsApp from an unknown number stating that she had won ‘One Million’ dollar prize. At first she did not respond, but she got called time and again from a few different numbers. After many calls, she finally responded.

To collect the prize money, the victim was asked to deposit Nu 10,000 as a WhatsApp voucher fee and later asked Nu 45,000 as a Prime Minister Signature fee on June 6. She was asked for another Nu 25,000 on June 7.

Accordingly, she deposited the total amount of Nu 80,000 in two different accounts with Bank of Bhutan (BoB) – one Bhutanese and one non-Bhutanese.

The woman then reported the case to police after she did not receive any call and any message about the prize money after having had deposited the money.

According to the police, the victim received calls on her WhatsApp from many Indians.

During the investigation, a Bhutanese man in Samdrup Jongkhar was arrested and the suspect is the account holder of one of the accounts where the woman had deposited the money.

Major Wangdi from Royal Bhutan Police in Thimphu said there are reports of such scams from Paro, Thimphu and other Dzongkhags too and urged people to be cautious while responding to these kinds of offer.

“People shouldn’t entertain suck kind of offers on social media, which can be fake and scam,” he said, adding that Thimphu Police are currently investigating the case.

Meanwhile, WhatsApp is the world’s most popular chat app, with over 1.5bn users each month and 55bn messages sent every day.

And in connection to possessing and abusing controlled substances, 40 people were arrested from May to June this year.

Thirty-three have been arrested for abusing controlled substances and six have been detained for illicit trafficking.

Police have also recovered a total of 1,386 capsules of Spasmo Proxyvon Plus (SP+) and 50 N10 tablets from the suspects.

According to the Royal Bhutan Police (RBP), they refer drug abusers to the Treatment Assessment Panel (TAP). The TAP, consisting of a medical doctor, legal officer, addiction professional and counselors, assesses the severity of a person’s substance use and provide appropriate intervention. A board member of the Narcotics Control Board chairs the panel.

Meanwhile, the offence of illicit trafficking of banned substances is a felony of fourth degree, which is imprisonment of three to five years, or third degree (five to nine years) depending on the quantity determined as per the Narcotic Drugs, Psychoactive Substance and Substance Abuse (NDPSSA) Act of Bhutan 2015.

Tshering from Thimphu