Many victims wait to lodge cases with the police beginning from scamming to defamation and death threats
On December 5, the police in Gelephu arrested 27-year-old Osman Osang Daniel Gurung, aka Daniel from Kalikhola in Dagana, who was a prime accused in several cases ranging from scamming and siphoning money from different people to defamation.
Cases against the accused surfaced in early 2022, as several people began to report incidences where Daniel allegedly came out in social media as an online supplier of goods that ranged from groceries to electronic goods.
His modus-operandi was simple yet effective. He would initially deliver goods as demanded by customers without any delay and in line with what customers wanted. However, this was his bait. Once he had gained the confidence of his customers, the latter began to order more and it was at that moment where he used to disappear. But not for long! He would come back into business using another fake social media account and posing as another online distributor.
As several similar cases came into the limelight, a reporter of this paper got the wind and began to write stories about him, based on information from those he had scammed. And it was then that the accused resorted to defaming not just the reporter but everyone who had spoken to the reporter.
The demography of those that Daniel had siphoned money from ranged from students who wanted to get a mobile phone for a cheaper rate to business houses. And it became easy for him as his initial reputation as one that would deliver had spread wide and large.
“But this was what he had exactly planned. A friend had got television for a reasonable price and as a small place, the news spread. Many began to trust him, only to be kicked later,” one of Daniel’s victims who did not want to be named said, adding that he appears like a fool now to have fallen into the trap.
Another victim, one of the first who had approached this paper’s reporter said that if it had not been for stories published by the paper, there would be thousands of people that Daniel could have scammed.
“As a responsible reporter and paper, stories were run. But we felt very bad when fictitious and multiple fake accounts emerged, defaming the reporter,” he said.
Through fake accounts, the reporter was accused of having taken money from those who reported about him and the news went viral. “Daniel had even put-up pictures of the reporter and those that reported about him in social media pages. As many such stories came out; some in the guise of Daniel’s well-wishers and friends, there were chances of people believing him. It was fine with me; but I just cannot imagine what the reporter would have gone through as he is known within Bhutan,” he said.
Even today, fake news and photos of most of Daniel’s victims with their family members and friends can be seen on Facebook, posted by Daniel using an anonymous Facebook account under the name of Sonam Wangchuk, amongst others.
Meanwhile, the reporter had also interviewed Daniel, who later threatened him that until he stopped writing about him and the police stopped investigating the case, he will continue defaming him and others on social media.
Another victim told Business Bhutan that fake news and defamation on social media created “lots of problems among family members.” “Only when you are defamed will you understand about the mental predicaments that the victim and family members undergo,” she said.
“I don’t know what people thought about me when Daniel posted fake news about me, but my family members questioned me,” she recollects, adding that she felt insecure and helpless when her photos began appearing on social media.
Business Bhutan learned that most of the victims, including students, were reluctant to register a case with the police against Daniel, as the victims were worried that they would also be defamed on various social media pages.
Meanwhile, victims who have lost their money to Daniel and then defamed are waiting to lodge cases against the accused. One of the victims said they have already lost their money.
“But it is not just about the money. I would like to complete all legal proceedings; he should compensate for defaming me and my wife more than 25 times in different social media, and forums and also for repeatedly harassing us,” he said.
He added that Daniel had taken money assuring them that he does online business through Amazon.com and visa.com company in Nepal and India. “It was not just defamation; I even received death threats from him,” he said.
There are also others who had not approached the media but are victims of Daniel. Speaking over the phone, one said that he will come forward and file a case with the police.
According to the police, family members of the victim have also reported cases stating that they have been harassed and defamed on social media.
Many victims say that they will also come forward to lodge complaints. “We may not get what we lost. But we feel that if we come forward and ensure that Daniel is fixed, then others will think a thousand times before trying to scam others and become like Daniel,” one victim said. Meanwhile, sources told the paper that the accused is currently detained at Gelephu police station.
Kinley Yonten from Thimphu