Whether social media has helped improve our lives is a debatable question. However, it is undoubtedly helping criminals dupe gullible people more often, quickly and efficiently. While greed and fear remain the top two reasons why people become victims of cybercrime, overhyped patriotism is a new ploy to dupe people. This week, I write about how fraudsters are collecting money for the 'welfare of battle casualties' and how the promise of loans at discounted rates from the government is scamming people.
Fake Messages To Assist Battle Casualties
The ordinary Indian may not wear her patriotism on her sleeve, but most of us have deep respect for our defence services and the highest sacrifice implicit when they sign on to serve the nation.
White-collar criminals are using this inherent goodwill and patriotism to cheat people. They are seeking money from people to help battle casualties and their families and some are even asking for money to buy weapons and equipment for the Indian army! The contributions are solicited through bank accounts that have been created to dupe people. The fraud is widespread enough for the Indian army to issue a formal clarification asking people to refrain from sending money to such bank accounts.
The message says, "Beware of such fraudulent messages. Indian Army operates two accounts for the welfare of veer naris, battle casualties and their dependents and these accounts are solely used for the same. Authenticated details are available at https://indianarmy.nic.in/home
So, respect the services of our defence services; but check before you rush off to donate money.
Govt Loan Offers at Discounted Rates
The Delhi police have arrested a notorious cheater for duping over 200 people in the past four years on the pretext of providing Pradhan Mantri Mudra loan at discounted rates, says a report from IANS.
Raj Kumar, a resident of Delhi, mainly targeted poor people by inducing them, in the name of a government loan offer. He used to publish advertisements on social media and also pasted posters with lucrative offers in the name of 'Pradhan Mantri Mudra Loan'. He also used to collect documents from victims to provide them with loans. After collecting the documents, Raj Kumar asked for money for clearance fees, registration fees or taxes.
So, the next time anyone offers you a government loan at a discounted interest rate, be careful. Information on government loan schemes is easily available in the public domain; so, a little checking would help avoid a loss.
KBC Lottery Cost Rs39 Lakh
Despite the repeated public warnings by government, regulators and enforcement agencies, people still tend to fall for fake lotteries in a big way. They also fail to realise that you cannot have won a jackpot if you have to pay charges and fees.
A woman from Hyderabad lost Rs39 lakh to cyber fraudsters who cheated her by saying she had won the 'Kaun Banega Crorepati (KBC) lottery'. She received a phone call informing her that she had won the KBC lottery worth Rs25 lakh. The caller told her that she needed to make some payments to withdraw her prize money. A gang member masquerading as a bank manager outlined the claim procedure and convinced her to make deposits towards various charges, says a report from India Today.
Cybercrime police of Hyderabad city arrested one Rakesh Kumar from Patna for fraud. Police seized 16 mobile phones, 73 debit cards, 30 SIM cards, 11 bank passbooks and two chequebooks during the search.
Police have cautioned people not to believe any lotteries like the KBC lottery or Naptol and lucky draws announced by unknown persons.
Reward Points Fraud
With the cost of communication equipment coming down, criminals have increased its usage. They are not only using the latest devices but are also running call centres for their duping operations.
Recently, Hyderabad police arrested 11 persons, including four women from Noida, by busting a call centre used for cyber frauds. The initial investigation revealed that the accused are involved in 18 cases across Telangana and 101 crimes all over India.
According to the police, these criminals used to call the victims and introduce themselves as bank officials calling from the head office. They lured the victims in the name of giving extra reward points for their credit or debit cards or helping redeem the reward points.
When you use your credit or debit card, the issuer offers some rewards points with a notional value. For example, when you buy an item worth Rs100, the card issuer may give you five points as a reward. The issuer may allow a notional value of Re1 to one reward point. You can redeem these reward points for buying some items.
These fraudsters used to convince the victims to reveal their card details for redeeming the reward points. When victims share their card details, the accused make a point of sales (POS) transaction, obtain the one-time passcodes (OTPs) from the victims and complete the transactions. One woman complainant lost Rs1 lakh in three transactions in the name of redeeming reward points.
So, the next time someone calls from your 'bank' and wants to help you 'redeem' reward points, be careful. Better visit the card issuer's official website or use the authentic mobile app and check or redeem your reward points.
If You Are a Victim of Cyberfraud
Do report cyber crimes to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal http://cybercrime.gov.in or call on 1930, the toll-free helpline number. You can also send messages to the National Cyber Crime Reporting agency on social media through their handles @Cyberdost (Twitter), CyberDostI4C (Facebook), cyberdostl4C (Instagram), and cyberdosti4c (Telegram).