Matrimonial website not liable for online fraud: HC

Written By kom nampultig on Sabtu, 11 April 2015 | 22.23

MUMBAI: A matrimonial website cannot be held responsible if a user is "careless and negligent" and falls for one of the common "internet scams", Bombay high court has ruled.

A matrimonial portal was hauled in a criminal case after a woman divorcee looking to get married for a second time was conned of around Rs 2.93 lakh by a prospective groom. A division bench of Justice Ranjit More and Justice Anuja Prabhudessai has now come to its rescue pointing to the "negligence and carelessness" of the woman and her failure to ensure online safety. The court quashed the FIR accusing the portal of cheating by Mira Road resident Seema Chaudhary (name changed).

"Perusal of the terms and conditions governing the use of the website makes it clear that the company has provided certain safety tips and warns every customer/member to be aware about common scams and frauds so that they are not cheated by others," said the judges, adding, "Despite the safety instructions provided by the company, Seema put herself in the present situation due to her own negligence and carelessness."

Seema claimed that the website had failed to inform her that the man, Michael Williams, who had claimed to be a resident of United Kingdom, had deactivated his account.

"The company cannot be held responsible for Seema's negligence and carelessness. Even assuming that it was the obligation on the part of the company to inform her about the suspension of Michael Williams' profile," the court said.

Seema, a divorcee, had paid a fee and registered on the website in June 2014, with the intention of meeting someone and marrying for a second time. She received a profile of Williams and started communicating with her. Williams informed her that he was landing in Mumbai on July 21, 2014, with the intention of investing in India. On the same day, Seema received a call from one Sofia Bajaj, who claimed to be from the Customs department and informed her that Williams had landed at Delhi airport and was required to pay Customs duty. Williams told her that he only had foreign currency and requested her to deposit Rs 24,500 in a particular account.

The next day, Seema received a call again from Sofia informing her that Williams was carrying over Rs 6 crore and in order to receive an "anti-terrorist certificate" she was required to deposit Rs 79,500.

The following day she was asked to deposit over Rs 1.89 lakh with an "RBI account" so that Williams could get a certificate to bring the money into the country. She deposited the amount, but when she was asked to pay another Rs 55,000, she sensed something amiss. Seema went to Delhi airport and then the RBI office, but found that none of the facts matched up and the bank accounts were not the department's official bank accounts.

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/followceleb.cms?alias=litigation,Legal,Law,Internet,Fraud

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