Fraud Alert: e-FIR & Fake Aadhaar Used for Swapping SIM; Crypto-currency Romance Scams
Even though the Unique Identification Authority of India (UIDAI) accepted and then withdrew its release, warning people not to share a copy with anyone, the risk and dangers associated with Aadhaar are quite huge. This week, we will see how a mobile SIM swap using Aadhaar allowed fraudsters to withdraw Rs16 lakh from bank accounts; a youngster used his mother's bank account to pay a whopping Rs36 lakh for online games and increasing instances of crypto-currency romance scams. 
 
SIM Swap Cost Rs16 Lakh
 
This is an interesting case from Lucknow that shows how fraudsters are way ahead of common people when it comes to using technology. In this case, fraudsters filed an electronic first information report (e-FIR) for a missing mobile SIM. Using a copy of the e-FIR, they obtained a new SIM from Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and then withdrew Rs16.04 lakh from three bank accounts linked with the mobile number. 
 
According to Triveni Singh, superintendent of police (SP) of the cyber cell, after procuring the SIM card, the fraudsters got hold of the Aadhaar and debit cards of the victims. Using net banking, they siphoned the money from three bank accounts. Police did not rule out the involvement of employees from the bank and the telecom operator. 
 
When Divyansh Singh, the victim, found money withdrawn from his bank accounts, he was told that it was done through net banking and the bank had sent the one-time passcode (OTP) to his registered mobile number. However, Divyansh did not receive any OTP, and his mobile had no network. He then checked with BSNL, where he was told that someone had applied for a new SIM using e-FIR and gave his Aadhaar as a know-your-customer (KYC) document.
 
This is the real danger of Aadhaar, where you will never know if someone has used it to open an account or buy a new SIM in your name. 
 
Although, in such a case, you cannot do much except filing a police complaint, do check your mobile regularly for network signals. If there is no signal for more than 5-10 minutes, contact your mobile operator (through another phone) and find out why. 
 
Hyderabad Boy Spends Rs36 Lakh on Mobile Games
 
A youngster downloaded a mobile game and then became addicted to it. So much so that he started using money from his mother's bank account to pay for the online games. He spent a whopping Rs36 lakh for playing the online games. 
 
When his mother went to withdraw some money, she found nothing left in her account. She then checked her other bank account and that was also empty. Further probe revealed that her own son paid the money to online game-providers.
 
The sad part of this episode is that the money in both accounts included monetary benefits received by the family after the death of the boy's father, a police officer.
 
Keep an eye on youngsters in the family and how they spend time on mobile phones. If you find them fully engrossed (for a long time) in the mobile phone (mostly held in a horizontal position) with rapidly changing facial expressions and maybe some comments, it's time to take serious note. In some cases, you may need help from a professional to get these youngsters out of the addiction.
 
Govt Yojana Paying Rs2,67,000?
 
Fraudsters are sending messages to people which say your bank account has been credited with Rs2,67,000 under a government scheme (Govt Yojana). However, this is a fraud message. The government of India is not running any such scheme and is not paying money to anyone under the Govt Yojana. 
 
 
Crypto-currency Romance Scams
 
Crypto romance scams, which originated in China, are rapidly spreading worldwide. In the US alone, the federal trade commission (FTC) found that victims lost US$139mn million in crypto romance scams in 2021 alone. This is almost five times the amount lost in 2020. 
 
Like honeytrap, the crypto-currency romance scams are successful because they take advantage of both emotional vulnerability and the relative lack of knowledge that the victim has about crypto-currency. 
 
In these scams, the fraudsters take full advantage of social media to spot, lure and dupe the victim. It starts with a dating app, and then moves to personal messaging or chatting apps like WhatsApp. Interestingly, there would always be a reason the scammers cannot meet up in person with the target. Some even refuse to talk on the phone or video chat, giving excuses like they are shy or their camera is broken. However, once they realise that they have made an emotional impact, the scamming starts.
 
It begins with extending help to invest a small amount in crypto on a particular website, which would give a good return. The victim is even allowed to withdraw the principal amount and gains. The victim is then encouraged to invest more money through the same website. If the victim claims he has no money, he is offered a loan as well. 
 
Once the victim invests more money, both the 'romantic' partner and the portal eventually become untraceable. Remember, crypto-currency is nearly impossible to recover once it is stolen or the intermediary vanishes into thin air.
 
In short, crypto-currency romance scams will not only break your heart but also empty your bank account. 
 
The simple rule in investment is not to invest money in any product you do not understand. Follow it, and you will save your hard-earned money from fraudsters.  
 
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