Online Puja Fraud – Fake Website in the Name of Kalighat Temple in Kolkata

A domain name that is similar to a popular Hindu temple, sacred place or Hindu God is what is needed today to create a fraud online puja website. A website with a domain similar to the popular Kalighat Temple in Kolkata was offering online pujas and other services for a hefty fee. The services included selling of various spiritual products. The owner of the fake website – www.kalighatonline.com – was recently arrested by the police.
The Telegraph reports
The Kalighat temple trust called Basu’s bluff after learning from devotees living abroad that they had offered virtual puja “through its website”.
Unlike some shrines, the Kalighat temple trust does not offer any online services. “We discovered that the accused had developed the website with a domain name containing the word ‘Kalighat’ so that foreign devotees wouldn’t suspect foul play. Not only Kalighat, he lured foreigners into offering online puja at other shrines,” joint commissioner of police (crime) Damayanti Sen said.
Over time, Basu’s online reach spread beyond Kalighat to 20-odd other pilgrimage centres, include Tarapith in Birbhum, Tarakeswar in Hooghly, Dakshineswar in North 24-Parganas and the Jagannath shrine in Puri.
As the cyber cops hunted for him, the 43-year-old con man continued selling spirituality to unsuspecting foreigners — everything from a litre of Gangajal for $74.75 (including shipping) to Sholapith idols for $41 per piece.
“The online puja package varied between Rs 700 and Rs 12,000 per offering, depending on the shrine. Most of those who paid for the service apparently found no reason to suspect that they were being conned,” an officer said.
The method of payment was through Paypal or CCNow. “We have traced all accounts linked to the website,” joint commissioner Sen said.