Almost every day, newspapers publish reports about people are being cheated by a variety of innovative new frauds. Most people skip over these articles assuming it happens to someone else. Moneylife has decided to bring you true stories about new ways in which fraudsters are getting your money, so that you know what not to do.
Every fraud operation takes place on one of two principles – fear or greed. When coupled with ignorance or gullibility, it is a recipe for losing money to confidence tricksters. In many recent cases around the world, people are being frightened into doing things by fraudsters posing as policemen holding out the threat of arrest. On the other hand, posing as army officials is a nice way to build confidence and trust, when people are being fooled into downloading dubious apps or parting with money.
After COVID restrictions have been lifted and people are desperately looking for hard-to-get holiday bookings, fraudsters are pretending to offer free travel or dirt-cheap holiday packages.
Take a look as some frauds reported this week:
Lost Rs11.5 Lakh after Calling Fake Customer Helpline
The Times of India
reports that a 37-year-old woman mother of two was tricked with a letter which claimed she had won Rs12.5 lakh in a lucky draw. She lost Rs11.5 lakh
after making 14 fund transfers to two bank accounts given to her by the fraudster and sending money through a e-wallet as 'processing fee' to claim the award.
Unfortunately, the fake lottery scam is not even new. It just finds gullible new victims everyday. In this case, the woman believed the letter she had received and called a fraudulent customer care helpline mentioned in the letter.
She did not pause to think why should would win anything without an application and why would there be such hefty processing charges for an award. She paid Rs5.06 lakh in five days. It remains to be seen if the police nab the fraudsters, but it is a huge price to pay for ignorance.
International Credit Card & Free Travel Offer
An Andheri-based businessman was conned into applying for and parting with personal details, aadhaar card and bank details, of himself and his wife on the promise of an international credit card with huge benefits including travel and hotel stay for just one rupee. He lost Rs21.17 lakh
His first mistake was to fall for the offer without verifying. Providing information on WhatsApp and then using a link provided by the fraudster to transfer one rupee, which opened access to all his data. In most cases, the con artists are so smooth, that they continue to keep the victim talking and even sharing an OTP repeatedly (claiming they are attempting to reverse a mistaken debit).
Scamster Impersonating Goa’s Governor Asks Money on WA
The crime branch of the Goa police has started probing WhatsApp messages to several journalists, requesting urgent payment via Google or Amazon Pay by a person claiming to be the state's governor PS Sreedharan Pillai.
Nobody has been defrauded but, since the person was impersonating the governor, it is receiving attention, especially since chief minister Pramod Sawant's Facebook account was cloned and requests for money via unified payment interface (UPI) were sent to several persons across Goa last July. Mr Sawant was also subject to a phishing attempt in November under the pretext of updating the know-your-customer (KYC) details of his bank account, while he was on an official visit to Delhi.
Mr Sawant was quoted as saying, "I was also surprised by this. I was wondering why? I flipped open my purse and even pulled out my Aadhaar, then it suddenly occurred to me, why should I share my Aadhaar number, let my account be frozen. No issues. So I did not share my Aadhaar number.” The quick thinking saved his money.
Payment SMS from Tripura Electricity Board
Another fraud using fear as a factor has been identified in Tripura, where people received text messages in the name of Tripura State Electricity Corporation Limited (TSECL) warning disconnection for non-payment of electricity bill.
Since there were multiple complaints, Jyotishman Das Chowdhury, assistant inspector general in-charge (law and order) in Tripura issued a public warning and asked people not to fall for such messages and pay money or share personal information.
WhatsApp Bonanza Messages
In the past three days, I have personally received four forwarded messages from my contacts offering government subsidies and benefits. One message was about India Post government subsidies, with a link to a totally unrelated website. This came from several different links.
Another scam that comes back with different concepts is the lure of Amazon contests offering free gifts. This time, the theme is Mother's Day for you! Interestingly, this message has link from Russia!
Another is using the Tanishq! brand name offering a Giveback Raffle. It says, “This event will give out 3000 gifts, everyone who participates in the event will have to opportunity to get…”
These links induce you to part with personal information that is used for targeted selling and, in some cases, may be totally fraudulent. This happens when people do not realise that domain names or ostensibly genuine brand names may be spoofed to hide links to scam sites.
For example, a website called amazon.bigfakelottery.com may fool people with the Amazon name but is actually connected to bigfakelottery.com. However, when we read from right to left, we miss other details in the domain name and assume it is a genuine Amazon link.
The same logic applies to emails as well. One has to be very careful while opening emails from an unknown source, especially when they hold out a threat or offer goodies.
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