Fraud With An NRI? – And – Section 420 IPC – What To Do If An Nri Has Been Defrauded Or Cheated Upon? Why NRI’s Have Become An Easy Target For Fraudsters/Cheaters ?



In recent times, there has been a rapid increase in NRI frauds which can take various forms, often exploiting the unique circumstances of NRI’s who in most of the cases are not able to be physically present in India to monitor their investments or handle their legal matters directly. Most of the cases in which the  NRIs are directly or indirectly involved constitute the ingredients of Section 420 of IPC. Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) pertains to the offense of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. It is a provision frequently invoked in cases involving fraud or deception, including those concerning Non-Resident Indians (NRIs).

What is Section 420 of IPC?

Section 420 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) deals with the offence of cheating and dishonestly inducing delivery of property. According to Section 420 of IPC:

“Whoever cheats and thereby dishonestly induces the person deceived to deliver any property to any person, or to make, alter or destroy the whole or any part of a valuable security, or anything which is signed or sealed, and which is capable of being converted into a valuable security, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to seven years, and shall also be liable to fine.”

In simpler terms, Section 420 IPC states that if someone deceives another person with the intention of making them hand over their property or valuable security, or to alter or destroy a valuable document, they can be punished with imprisonment for up to seven years, along with a fine. This provision is often invoked in cases involving fraud, scams, or other forms of deception where individuals are tricked into parting with their money, property, or other assets based on false promises, misrepresentation, or deceit. It’s a significant legal tool in prosecuting cases of financial fraud and dishonesty.

Types of scams or frauds that the NRIs fall victim to.

  • Real Estate Scams:  NRIs may fall victim to fraudulent real estate deals where properties are misrepresented, undervalued, or even sold without their knowledge.
  • Investment Scams: NRIs might be lured into fraudulent investment schemes promising high returns but end up losing their money due to Ponzi schemes or other fraudulent investment vehicles.
  • Identity Theft: NRIs’ identities can be stolen, leading to fraudulent transactions, loans, or credit card usage without their knowledge.
  • Property Inheritance Disputes: NRIs may face disputes over inherited properties in India, often involving forged documents or fraudulent claims by others.
  • Matrimonial Frauds: NRIs seeking partners through matrimonial websites or agencies might encounter scams where individuals pretend to be someone they’re not, aiming to exploit them financially or emotionally.
  • Cyber Frauds: NRIs can be targeted by cybercriminals through phishing scams, malware attacks, or fraudulent emails requesting personal or financial information.

What to do if an NRI has fallen victim to a fraud?

  • Online Police Complaints: One of the most convenient ways for NRIs  to file a police complaint is through the online portal of the respective state’s police department. Take Punjab Police, for example, which offers an online platform for lodging complaints. You can provide details of the alleged offence, share evidence if available, and submit your complaint electronically. This method is efficient, user-friendly, and allows you to initiate the process without physically being in India.
  • Engaging an Attorney and NRI Commission:  For a more formal and legal approach, NRIs can engage an attorney in India who specialises in criminal matters. Your attorney can help you file a complaint before the NRI Commission in Chandigarh, a body dedicated to addressing issues faced by NRIs. The Commission has the authority to investigate and take action on complaints related to crimes against NRIs.
  • Filing a Criminal Complaint under Section 200 of Cr.P.C. : NRIs can also file a criminal complaint under Section 200 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This section outlines the procedure for Magistrates to take cognizance of an offense upon a complaint. To do this, you would need to approach a Judicial Magistrate in the jurisdiction where the alleged offense occurred. Your attorney or legal representative in India can guide you through this process, ensuring all necessary documentation is in order.
  • Filing a Motion under Section 156(3) Cr.P.C.: Another option is to file a motion under Section 156(3) of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. This empowers a Magistrate to order an investigation into an alleged offense. Unlike Section 200, where the Magistrate takes cognizance upon a complaint, Section 156(3) allows the Magistrate to initiate an investigation directly. This can be a powerful tool to ensure a thorough and impartial inquiry into the alleged crime.

Relevance of  Section 420 IPC to cases involving NRIs:

Cheating: Section 420 defines cheating as deceiving another person with the intention of inducing them to deliver property or valuable security, or to do or omit to do something that they would not do or omit if they were not deceived. This could include situations where an NRI is tricked or misled into parting with their money, property, or other assets based on false promises, misrepresentation, or deceit.

Dishonest Inducement: The provision also requires dishonest inducement, meaning that the deception used to obtain the property or induce the action must be done with the intention of causing wrongful gain to oneself or another or causing wrongful loss to the person deceived. In cases involving NRIs, this could involve schemes or scams targeting them specifically, such as fraudulent investment schemes, fake job offers, or matrimonial frauds.

Delivery of Property: The offense under Section 420 IPC involves inducing the delivery of property. For NRIs, this could include instances where they are persuaded to transfer funds, properties, or other assets based on false representations or promises or on the basis fraudulent use of their power of attorney.


To prevent falling victim to such scams/frauds, NRIs should stay vigilant, conduct thorough research before making any financial decisions, use secure communication channels, and seek legal advice if necessary. Additionally, they should keep their financial and personal information secure and regularly monitor their accounts for any suspicious activity and not to forget about the necessity to be extra cautious while giving your power of attorney to any individual/friend/relative.

If an NRI falls victim to fraud or deception that meets the criteria outlined in Section 420 IPC, they can file a complaint with the appropriate law enforcement authorities in India. The authorities can investigate the matter and, if sufficient evidence is found, initiate legal proceedings against the perpetrators under Section 420 IPC and other relevant provisions of the law. It’s crucial for NRIs to be aware of their rights and legal remedies in such situations and to seek legal assistance if they believe they have been cheated or defrauded.

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