Hyderabad: The lowest any crook can go is when he steals money in the name of oxygen that should go free to hapless people staring at death during the Covid-19 pandemic.
And in Hyderabad, the number of crooks who spread misinformation on the availability of oxygen cylinders and cheat people desperately in need of the cylinders is on the rise.
Shivani Yasaswi, a citizen volunteer trying to connect people with beds, oxygen cylinders, medicines and plasma donors, shared that there were several fake numbers of oxygen suppliers floating on the internet, making it difficult for people to reach authentic suppliers. There are also people who forward for the sake of doing it, making it double hard for those looking for authentic information.
“I am part of various groups trying to help people. The biggest challenge is segregating fake and authentic numbers of suppliers. People see the messages and forward without verifying. Those in desperate need keep calling these numbers, but receive no help. I request people to verify information before passing it on,” she says.
Also, several fraudsters, having hoarded oxygen cylinders, are now selling those at exorbitant prices.
Navya Ananthula, whose father requires an oxygen cylinder at home, shares: “Of the 100 contacts you come across on social media for oxygen cylinders, only a handful will be authentic. Several times the numbers I get are of people who have stock and selling it at high prices. Make sure you have authentic contacts and take cylinders only from them.”
Advising people to be cautious, Cyberabad Police Commissioner VC Sajjanar says, “We have noticed several numbers of fake oxygen suppliers being circulated on the net. People either get access to these via social media or Google. The issue is no one ever verifies them. I request people to please check the website of the suppliers before calling them. We also have started an online service, where we are listing numbers of authentic oxygen suppliers. Please contact them before you use numbers from other sources.”
A list of verified sources has been shared by Society for Cyberabad Security Council (SCSC) and Cyberabad Police can be found on https://covid.scsc.in/. People can also find verified information about various medicines, beds, blood banks and plasma support on the same platform.
Recent cases :
• Three trying to sell oxygen cylinders at exorbitant prices and ferrying them in an ambulance arrested at Moula Ali on April 27
• A businessman held by west zone police for illegal sale of oxygen cylinders
• Three arrested in separate cases for blackmarketing oxygen cylinders and Remdesivir injections. Nineteen cylinders seized