Social engineering crimes committed by fraudsters by impersonating buyers and sellers have increased manifold. Phishing, vishing, and smishing (messages sent via email, social media, and texting platforms) are techniques used to trick customers into disclosing their passwords, credit or debit card numbers, CVV OTP, MPIN, UPIN, and QR Code. The fraudsters use this gathered information to log into a customer’s account, change the passwords and delivery address, and make unauthorised purchases.
In recent times, advance payment frauds have started emerging, where fraudsters trick the victims into paying advance amounts (Application fee, Processing fee, Income Tax and GST fee etc) on the pretext of either winning a lottery or gift or being offered a loan. A detailed explanation of advance payment is given below for lottery, loan, and gift fraud.
Modus Operandi of Few Advance Fee Frauds:
(a) A lottery that was won by the victim- (Step 1) In a usual lottery scam, fraudsters send WhatsApp messages to unsuspecting victims from unknown numbers claiming that their mobile number has won a lottery organised by reputed organisations, and so to assert that lottery, they show victim’s contact number mentioned in the fake video announcement. (Step 2) When the victim contacts them, the fraudster tells him/her that they have to first pay a (i) Processing Fee, (ii) GST Fee, etc. The fraudsters communicate only through WhatsApp, and they request the victim to deposit money in various bank accounts and request the victim to pay further fees on the pretext of income tax, etc., and so on. This keeps going in circles until all the money is collected from the victim. (Step 3) Finally, when the victim starts asking for the lottery amounts, they stop calling him/her and discontinue the WhatsApp numbers that were being used for the fraud.
(b) A loan sanctioned to the victim- (Step 1) Debt ridden people are identified and offered guaranteed loans with an upfront fee, to be paid. They contact the victims using phishing, vishing, and smishing methods. (Step 2) They ask for all relevant information, unlike any professional loan approval process, and they insist to pay advance fees like (i) insurance fee (ii) processing fee (iii) GST etc. (Step 3) Finally, when the victim starts asking for the loan amounts, they stop calling him/her and discontinue the WhatsApp numbers that were being used for the fraud.
(c) A gift (Scratch cards) sent to the victim- (Step 1) Scratch scams involve getting mail containing colourful brochures and a scratch cards along with it. It is important to note that there are prizes for all scratch cards by default . (Step 2) When the victim calls to claim their prize, the scammer will ask for advance fees, processing fee, GST, or gift taxes to be paid before the victim has to get winnings. (Step 3) Finally, when the victim starts asking for gift delivery details, they stop calling him/her and discontinue the WhatsApp numbers that were being used for the fraud. Because of the general public’s lack of awareness, this type of scam can go unnoticed for a few times. Urgency tactics used by fraudsters are (a) first come, first served offers, so be the first five members to claim the lottery or gift; (b) your loan offer will expire in 24 hours (c) your loan is offered without a CIBIL score check.
A few safety tips:
* Read the reviews, consider the reputation, and read the return policies.
* Always communicate with the inbuilt tools of the application and never communicate outside of the application.
* User verified apps from the Apps Store or Play Store
* Look for a Secure Payment (https://—URL with a Key Symbol).
* Never share OTP/PIN numbers in any form with the buyer or seller.
* Never do the payment transaction while you are on the call.
* Enable two-factor authentication for all your email, social media, and e-commerce accounts.
* Do not click and fill up any short links provided by the buyer or seller.
* Do not fill google forms links provided by the buyer or seller.
* Do not give remote access to your laptop or mobile to unknown people.
* Wining a lottery without buying a lottery ticket would be a fraud
* Getting a parcel as cash on demand for which you haven’t ordered.
* Never pay advance amounts for any loan that is yet to be sanctioned, usually the processing fee is deducted and the loan amounts get disbursed.
* If you scan the QR code, it means money is being deducted from your account.
* Never call the customer care number taken from google search, dial the actual number mentioned on the official website and applications
* Report cybercrime as soon as possible to https://www.cybercrime.gov.in or call the national toll-free number (1930).