Several desperate investors, who have lost money in PACL Ltd. are now receiving fraud messages about refunds that could dupe them all over again. These messages claim they are about providing a refund, but actually ask PACL investors to pay 10% of the claim amount as goods and services tax (GST).
We asked market regulator Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) for a clarification. In an email reply, an official from SEBI says, "The (PACL) Committee has not sent such a message as highlighted in the trailing mail and it appears the message is not genuine."
Our assessment also confirms that these messages are completely fraudulent and aimed at duping already aggrieved investors of PACL.
This type of fraud, which aims to scam people, who are already victims of another scam is fairly common abroad. What is required is a communication exercise by the regulator to warn people in time.
The PACL fraud message that was shared by one of our readers says, "Please verifying your Genuine identity By making a Positive Response in order to verify your identity of Yours at [email protected]
FROM the Phone Pe UPI SERVER.Only By Making A Consumer GST In the name of xxx."
"Go to the Phone Pe UPI app and make Positive Response of transaction BY Verifying Your identity. the amount would be settled in same time In the Account of xxxx. once we receive the verification.Amount of GST from the same bank account. please make a positive response from you and verifying the amount 24,978 INR Refundable. IN Order to receive your PACL Refund Compensation Amount 2,25,000 INR Same time. Please let us inform once you receive the amount so that we can close the case," the message reads. (this is the actual message shared verbatim.)
Firstly, all PACL investors seeking refunds have already submitted documents for identification and verification and shared their bank details. These investors would receive their refunds directly from the regulator, once cleared by the Justice RM Lodha (retd) committee, appointed by the Supreme Court (SC), in their valid bank accounts. There is no need to verify their details on any third-party UPI app.
What is more shocking is that instead of sending the claim amount the message, in fact, is asking the PACL investor to pay more money!
If an investor opens the Phone Pe app, fills the account details, and gives a 'positive response' (clicks Yes), then money from her account would immediately get deducted. This is a trap to extract money from the investor's account through UPI.
The digital payment platforms based on unified payments interface (UPI) allows user to pay money or receive money from other UPI users. This is called as push (pay) and pull (receive) transactions. In the above message, the PACL investor is being asked to pay money instead of receiving it.
If you receive such mails, do not pay any heed and simply mark it as 'spam' and press delete.
Following regulatory action, PACL investors were asked to submit refund claims for which the cut-off date was 31 July 2019. However, several investors are still pleading for an extension of time to submit their refund claims. PACL (or Pearls) is one of the largest Ponzi schemes in India which had been allowed to run for decades amassing over Rs49,000 crore.
The Justice Lodha committee is supervising the SC-ordered process of selling PACL's assets across the country and refunding Rs49,100 crore collected from over 55 million investors.
Earlier, in August 2019, we reported how a Mumbai-based investment banking analyst lost Rs87,000 via UPI while buying three beers online. The analyst Radhika Parekh was requested to share her UPI ID for making a payment of Rs420 on Google Pay. After sharing her UPI ID, she received a request on Google Pay. The moment she accepted the request, Rs29001 were deducted from her account. She called the wine shop number where the answering person apologised and told her that the amount was deducted due to mistake. However, when she disconnected the call, another amount of Rs58,000 was deducted from her account.