Finally, it has happened. Elon Musk has bought Twitter by paying a humongous US$44bn (billion) and immediately decided to review the coveted blue tick verification to make it a paid product. After a public discussion on charges, which started at $25 a month, Twitter announced a charge of US$8 per month for the 'blue tick'. Even before Twitter implements the new policy, cybercriminals are already in fast-action mode. People have begun to receive emails offering verification of their Twitter user account for a price.
While this is happening mainly in the US, back home, November is the month for pensioners to update their status by submitting life certificates to banks (mostly) where they have their pension accounts. Cybercriminals are now preying on gullible senior citizens, who may have limited knowledge of how things work online and could easily become a victim. But more about it later.
Twitter Verification Fraud
Cyber and privacy lawyer Dr Prashant Mali shared a message for not losing one's 'verified' blue tick on Twitter. The 'greed' factor in these emails is a 'free' and 'permanent verification badge' of Twitter.
As advocate Mali has pointed out, there are enough signs in this mail to identify and mark it as not authentic. This includes the sender's email (in this case, it’s Gmail.com) and the 'outdated' content.
As you may be aware, Mr Musk has announced US$8 per month for the Twitter blue tick. However, the mail shared by advocate Mali states, "...verification badge will be US$19.99 per month for some users after November 2, 2022."
There is no need to say that cybercriminals send such emails to gain access to your personal information through a link provided in the mail.
In short, if you receive any such mail, then immediately delete it without clicking on any link inside the mail. You can also mark the mail as spam/phishing and block the sender. In Gmail, open the mail and click on the three vertical dots on the upper right-hand side. It will open a list that gives you options like deleting the email, blocking the sender, and reporting the mail as spam and/or phishing. If you are not using Gmail, check the options provided by your email service-provider to block the sender and report the mail as spam.
Pensioners Beware of Calls for Updating Life Certificate
While police and enforcement agencies want to take action against cyber fraudsters, we found that criminals have come up with newer ways to target gullible people. Recently, the central pension accounting office (CPAO) warned pensioners about not responding to calls to update their life certificates.
"Cyber malefactors have been calling pensioners to update their life certificate by getting their data from somewhere as date of appointment, date of retirement, pension payment order (PPO) number, Aadhaar number, email, address, monthly pension, and nominee. The fraudsters call pensioners with their data to convince them that they are calling from the pension department and ask the pensioners to share one-time passcode (OTP) for updating their life certificates. Once they get OTP from pensioners, the fraudsters get direct access to their bank accounts and transfer the amount from pensioners' accounts to a fraud account," the CPAO says.
While most senior citizen pensioners visit bank branches during November and sign on the register as proof of living, some find it challenging to be physically present. This usually means a lot of trauma for elders who are not in good health or too old to make it physically to their bank branches.
Unfortunately, this is the segment the cybercriminals are now targeting for siphoning money from the bank account of pensioners.
If you are a pensioner, kindly refrain from sharing any details related to the pension account with anyone over the phone. If you know any such pensioners, you can alert them about this fraud to save them from becoming victims.
It also means that cybercriminals are getting more innovative and more sophisticated by the day. However, it is (still) easy to be safe online when you are aware of the latest threats and have protective measures in place.
Stay Alert, Be Safe!