Detective Branch of Police claimed to have identified at least six organised syndicates that are swindling money from people by pretending to be plasma donors or cured Covid-19 patients.
Police first learned of them following the arrest of one Sharif Khan Babu from the capital's Motijheel area on Thursday night, said Mujib Ahmed Patwary, assistant commissioner of DB police.
How exactly does the syndicate conduct their crimes?
The syndicate members collect details of plasma (of cured Covid-19 patient) seekers from social media posts. They then pretend to be cured Covid-19 patients and call the seekers, promising to donate plasma.
However, they say they need some money in advance to cover transportation and food costs. Once money is wired, the syndicate members switch off their phones and go back to looking for more victims in need of plasma.
"The syndicate members target mostly those seeking plasma of rare blood groups such as O negative," said assistant commissioner Patwary.
"We first received a complaint from the admin of a Facebook group named 'Plasma Bank of Bangladesh', which has around two lakh members. Members submitted complaints to the admin about the innovative fraud," said Patwary.
The admin provided police with 22 phone numbers of people who collected money and later switched off the phone.
While investigating the complaint, DB officials arrested Babu, who said he worked with three or four people.
In primary interrogation he admitted to collecting money from three people seeking plasma of cured coronavirus patients.
"Babu used six cell phones and used mobile financial services on these numbers to collect the money," the DB police official said.
The syndicate members call plasma seekers asking for their location. "If they learn the victim is in Dhaka, they tell them they are in Chattogram or Cox's Bazar and will need money for transport and food."
They demand Tk 10,000 to Tk 30,000, depending on the victim's condition, on their mobile financial service, said Patwary.
After analysing the Facebook group and interrogating Babu, police have traced about a dozen numbers. "The technical database shows some of their locations are in Khulna, Rangpur and Rangamati," said the assistant commissioner.
Babu too does not live in Dhaka. Hailing from Chandpur, the man was visiting one of his sister's house at Farmgate.
Police say they have already started drives against these syndicate members in Dhaka and sought help from people outside Dhaka. Patwary also advised people against trusting any unknown people when seeking help online.