With romance scams and matrimonial frauds becoming a growing concern for Mumbai Police, matrimonial websites have protested they can’t verify every account or be held responsible for every person who signs up for an account. However, security experts feel the websites need to do more, for particularly the victims of such frauds.
Speaking in the city at a recent meeting organised by the Maharashtra Cyber police and Bombay Chambers of Commerce and Industry to discuss issues pertaining to matrimonial frauds, representatives from matrimonial websites said that they are just “intermediaries”. The meet was attended by cyber security, banking and forensic experts, including cyberlaw expert and Supreme Court lawyer Karnika Seth, special inspector general Maharashtra (cyber) Brijesh Singh, cyber law and security expert lawyer Prashant Mali, superintendent of police (SP, cyber) Balsing Rajput and general manager of Matrimony.com, S Ravichandran.
Ravichandran said websites like his have complained to the police about fake profiles and explained they couldn’t be held responsible by law. “Matrimonial sites are intermediaries under the IT Act. It is up to the members to verify the credentials of the other person and proceed further for marriage. It does not make any difference whether it is a paid or free member,” he said.
Replying to a written query from HT, chief executive officer of Shaadi.com Gourav Rakshit said his website uses a multi-layered screening system in which checks are done at every stage of a member’s journey and every time they actively engage on the platform.
“In fact, due to our stringent processes almost one-third of the sign-ups are not activated as they don’t meet our requirement of information that needs to be shared with us,” said Rakshit.
Raising the issue of counselling victims, Mali said, “Matrimonial websites should buy some insurance policy for fraud victims. The state must make it mandatory for matrimonial websites to use 2% of their revenue for customer awareness.”
Seth agreed with Mali. “Some checks and balances, due identity verification should be made, through use of id proof . If they fail to take diligence measures, they can be vicariously liable and criminally liable. They could be said to abet the crime as they wilfully omit to exercise diligence.”