FRAUDALERT
Ratan Tata and NR Narayana Murthy are two well-respected business leaders. One thing common to them is that they do not offer investment advice. So, when videos surfaced where they were heard recommending a certain investment scheme or the use of a particular investing platform, it created ripples across the country.

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Humans are fundamentally good. Whenever someone requests help or support, people tend to extend a helping hand, especially if it requires nothing more than a small transfer of money. They don't think much or investigate before responding to something that tugs at their heartstrings.

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Mumbai-based Manoj Kumar Poddar needed a business loan and when someone offered him the loan at a lower interest rate, he readily agreed. He even paid nearly Rs1 crore as a fee or commission to obtain the 'attractive' (read lower) interest rate offered on the loan. However, he neither received the loan nor the lower interest. He is one of the victims of the loan fraud. But more about it later.

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Many Indians think that the year's most significant discounts and offers end with Diwali. With online shopping, it no longer holds true. Most online e-commerce portals align their marketing with global practices so festive and holiday discounts remain active until the first week of January.

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While cybercrime is increasing at an alarming rate, the number of first information reports (FIRs) registered and, thus, the rate of conviction, remains relatively low. In December last year, the Union government told the Lok Sabha that since 1 January 2020, 1.6mn (million) cybercrime incidents have been reported and more than 32,000 (FIRs) have been registered.

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Incidents of cyber fraud and data breaches have increased at such an alarming pace that earlier this week, M Rajeshwar Rao, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), asked banks to improve their customer grievance mechanism and provide the right support to those who are affected.

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As artificial intelligence (AI) systems are getting more integrated into our daily life, there is a growing tendency among users to get hold of free AI tools. Cybercriminals have rightly spotted this weakness as an opportunity to spread malware capable of stealing users' login credentials.

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The big shopping frenzy and the deals, discounts and offers that are part of all major festivals like Diwali, Dussehra or Christmas are enormous business opportunities for cybercriminals, too.

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Fraud originating from the infamous scam clusters such as Jamtara, Indore, or Mewat regions of India is thriving, but what is more worrisome is the use of sophisticated tools and authentic-looking 'sets' by criminals. Most new-age criminals operate as a gang, with each member handling specific, assigned tasks, including posing as a police inspector or the chief of a cybercrime cell! Since most of us are unaware of how government departments work, particularly investigation and enforcement agencies, it is easy to victimise people by building a fake scenario and holding out the threat of an arrest.

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Banking and security experts repeatedly warn people not to share their bank account details, credit or debit card numbers, or personal identification numbers (PIN) with anyone. Yet, many bank account holders voluntarily agree to become banking/ money mules and allow fraudsters to use their bank accounts for illegal money transfers for a fee.

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Payment gateways, a technology or service that facilitates electronic transactions, play a crucial role in the online commerce ecosystem by ensuring the security, reliability, and convenience of electronic payment transactions.

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So, you finally decided to go in for a new phone and opt for the latest handset during the big online festival sales. You then notice that several apps are preloaded on the device. These preinstalled apps, provided by the device manufacturer, are known as bloatware or potentially unwanted applications (PUAs).

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Mobiles have become an essential part of our life and lifestyle. With mobiles come the apps. For everything from chatting to creating short videos for sharing on social media to financial transactions, there are plenty of apps to choose from. While most of these apps are free, sometimes mobile users assume that downloading and using an app with a 'plus' or 'pro' tag or a modified (mod) app downloaded from torrent sites would provide more features.

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As security and privacy experts have repeatedly warned us, scammers and tech-savvy fraudsters constantly come up with new ways to crack the system, bypass security systems or find new ways to defraud people with a combination of technology and psychographics.

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Many of you may not have even heard the name of Ravisutanjani Kumar, a social media influencer, who was followed on X (erstwhile Twitter) by none other than the prime minister (PM) himself and had a very impressive list of clients.

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In our rapidly changing world, governments worldwide have embarked on ambitious endeavours to try and use digital modes for providing services to citizens. While these efforts are commendable in terms of efficiency and accessibility, a glaring concern that often goes unnoticed is the inadequate security and privacy protection measures in these systems.

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These days, the government's answer to fixing all wrongdoings and violations is to find a technical solution. It does not matter if the solution is logical or not. In the past few years, every government department and regulator has launched, what they believe, are massive, miraculous solutions and publicised them with a media blitzkrieg that is pitched to ordinary citizens as a series of masterstrokes after another.

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Technology is a double-edged sword; it improves lives in myriad ways but, on the flip side, it often hurts the underprivileged in multiple ways. Take the case of digital fraud, where a set of victims lose Rs500 each.Technology is a double-edged sword; it improves lives in myriad ways but, on the flip side, it often hurts the underprivileged in multiple ways. Take the case of digital fraud, where a set of victims loses Rs500 each.

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Technology, and all it has done to improve our lives, is definitely a boon but it is a double-edged sword unless you are careful. In a digital era, where information is primarily exchanged through the internet, it has also provided cybercriminals anonymity and expansive reach.

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There is nothing like visiting a government office or a public sector bank (PSB) to cut your ego down to keep your feet on the ground. Employees there rarely have the time to acknowledge you, let alone your 'aura' or 'high rank'. Such experiences are enlightening!

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