Patna, BIHAR— “Do you want to work in Pregnancy Job Service?” The person at the other end of the call asked this reporter. The phone number was listed on a Facebook page called All India Pregnant Job Service.
For the next two to three minutes, the operator informed this reporter in detail about the job and the huge earnings he could potentially receive. The job required registration to be done, for which a copy of their Aadhar card, a photo and 500 rupees had to be sent.
Elaborating on what was on offer, the operator said 5 lakh rupees will be given in advance as soon as the registration is done and the remaining 5 lakh rupees will be given after the work is done. Apart from this, 40,000 rupees will be given as a salary every month for three months. The job in question was to impregnate a woman.
On the Facebook page where the number was listed, in a two-minute video a woman says that she is married but cannot have children with her husband due to his health issues. She says she is ready to offer 10 lakh rupees to any man who can get her pregnant. In the later part of the video, a male voice gives details of the offering and how a person can avail this service.
Believing that the scheme is genuine, many Facebook users shared their mobile numbers in the comment section.
Even as the Bihar police have arrested eight people for this new scam, several Facebook pages on ‘pregnancy jobs’ still exist.
There are plenty of victims but so far no one has filed a complaint yet. One among them is Mukesh Kumar (name changed), who lost thousands of rupees to the scam.
In December last year, Mukesh was scrolling through his Facebook account when he saw that a woman was offering lakhs of rupees to any man who could impregnate her. As a migrant labourer who only earns 500 rupees daily, Mukesh found the offer attractive. “Hum Paise ka bhookha hain. Hum pe bahut karz hai. Soche ki 2-3 mahine ka kaam hai to kyon na karen (We are hungry for money. We are in debt. Thought that it is just 2-3 months work so why should I not take it up),” he says.
Mukesh was asked to send his Aadhaar card and a photo for registration. “One Sandeep Rawat was talking to me. He asked to transfer 799 rupees. He said once he receives the money he will put me in touch with a madam who will give me 10 lakh rupees if I impregnate her,” Mukesh told Decode.
He transferred the initial amount but no one put him in touch with anyone. Instead, Sandeep kept asking him for more money. “I paid 4500 rupees for medical tests and 7998 rupees for Goods and Services Tax (GST),” he says, “but neither did I get any money nor any contact of the lady despite paying more than 18000 rupees.”
When Mukesh started realising that he fell for a scam, the scammers wanted to extract more money. They called him to inform him that 5,12,4000 rupees had been transferred to his account but the money was not credited. He was asked to pay 12,600 rupees as TDS tax. To make Mukesh believe that they had indeed transferred money to his account, they sent a text message to his mobile number which said that his account had been credited 5,12,400 rupees but the amount was on hold. The message was identical to the messages sent by banks when money is transferred.
This time Mukesh didn't fall into their trap. He asked back for his money. They stopped responding.
A Bihar resident, Mukesh currently works as a daily wage labourer in Himachal Pradesh with a decorating contractor who makes tents and decorations for festivals or big social gatherings. To make a tent, sometimes he has to climb more than 150 feet. He earns 15,000 rupees per month for this risky job.
A ‘pregnancy job’ gang busted
In mid-December, Nawada district’s cyber police received a tip-off that some youths were running a cyber scam in the remote village of Gurma. A special investigation team (SIT) was formed and the team raided the village at around 11.30 am on December 29.
A police officer who was part of the SIT told Decode, “When we reached near an unplastered room where the scam was running from, about 30-40 youths fled. We chased them and managed to nab 8 youths. Arrested accused have identified 18 scammers. We have named them in the FIR.”
Police have found 9 mobile phones and one printer from the crime scene.
“Investigation so far has suggested that they had been running the scam for one year. They would lure people by offering them lakhs of money to get women pregnant and charge money for registration, GST, medical tests etc,” Kalyan Anand, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) of the cyber section of Nawada told Decode.
Munna Kumar, said to be the kingpin of the scam is absconding.
Scammers, aged between 18 to 40 years, belong to lower middle-class families. Some of them have studied till intermediate and some are graduates.
How much money has been scammed so far is unknown. “We have not figured it out yet. Investigation is on,” Kalyan Anand says.
Decode found many active Facebook pages where scammers are offering lakhs of money for impregnating women and almost all follow the same modus operandi. On these Facebook pages women in videos claim that they want children and any person who impregnates them will be paid lakhs of money. And when people call on the given numbers the scammers ask potential targets to pay a fee that ranges between 500-1,000 rupees. They ask for an Aadhaar card and photo to get them registered. Once people get themselves ‘registered’, the scammers start extracting money.
Decode reached out to Facebook for a comment but hasn't received a response yet. We will update the story if we get a response.
No police complaint, victims in denial
Unlike other scams, this one involves the lure of both sex and money, which causes embarrassment for the victims. Therefore, due to fear of being defamed, the victims did not go to the police. Nawada Police said that they have not received a single complaint of such a scam.
The police had found a list of phone numbers of people who had been scammed from the phones of the cybercriminals. However, when the police contacted them, most of them denied being scammed.
“We contacted 12-13 people, but only one or two people admitted to being scammed. Others denied it," Kalyan Anand says. On being asked if the investigation will be affected by victims not coming forward, the DSP said, “No, if even one or two victims accept the fraud, we will be able to get the culprits punished.”
Mukesh didn’t lodge any complaint to the police either. He says he informed his friends about it who asked him not to go to the police as it will be bad for his reputation. “I was told that the police may scold me for accepting such fake offers, so I didn’t go to the police,” he said.
He tried very hard to hide the incident from his family members who have now got the news of the scam. He says, “My father is scolding me and my wife has stopped talking to me.”