Today, many things can be done online with just a few clicks, thanks to modern technology. When it comes to buying or selling products, many people prefer to do it online. Modern technology offers many benefits, but it also has many drawbacks. A tidal wave of online frauds is taking place, and fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated.
Beware of Fake Online Shopping Portals
Case 1 - Scammers have set up a bogus shopping website called www.kart4all.com. It is designed so that users believe that a website is genuine. As a way of gaining people's trust, free gifts were offered as promotions for the website.
When one of the victims contacted the police, the fraud was exposed. According to the complainant, he was contacted by someone who claimed to represent Kart4all.com. As per the caller, the victim had won a gift that could be a Dell laptop, a Sony LED TV, or an iPhone 7. He had to purchase something from the portal worth more than Rs 550 in order to qualify for the gift.
The victim chose the Dell laptop as the gift after purchasing products worth Rs 650 from the portal. The following day, the victim received a call asking him to pay GST of Rs 12,600 on the free gift. Following his first deposit of Rs 12,600, he was again asked for a further deposit of Rs 27,000 for shipping insurance. Accordingly, the victim deposited Rs 27,000.
In a few days, he received another phone call from the fraudster, who explained some technical difficulties prevented the laptop from being shipped. Further, they told him that they would refund the money, but he had to deposit Rs 5,000 more. For the sake of saving the price he already paid, he transferred Rs 5,000 to the fraudster.
Having paid more money and not received a refund, he contacted the Delhi police.
Case 2 - In order to defraud online cement buyers, a fake website called Ambuja Cement was created. For the domestic market as well as exports, Ambuja Cement is the largest cement producer in India.
Fraudsters used a fictitious website created in the name of Ambuja Cement to take orders for cement and deposit the money in a Benami bank account. The fraudsters promised to deliver cement after receiving the customers' payments. However, the buyers who paid did not receive the cement.
The scam was discovered after victims began contacting customer service at Ambuja Cement. The customer service center received many complaints from customers who didn't receive cement despite paying for the cement.
Upon receiving the complaint, the company launched an investigation and discovered that fraudsters had set up a fake website called Ambuja Cement. So far, criminals have taken approximately Rs 1.8 lakh from customers pretending to be cement bag couriers. In addition to defrauding customers, fraudsters have infringed on the company's copyright by registering a domain in its name and creating an invoice that looks like the company's.
How to avoid online shopping fraud:
1. Look closely at the website's contact information. False websites usually do not include their contact information.
2. It is necessary that the URL of an online shopping website begin with HTTPS. This indicates that the website is secure and that your payments will be secure. Avoid shopping on unsecured websites and only shop on secure websites.
3. Cashbacks and offers are more appealing to consumers. Several websites use this technique to attract customers. However, if an unknown e-commerce company is offering offers that seem too good to be true, you should investigate as it could be a scam.
4. Cybercriminals send phishing emails that appear to be from legitimate companies. You should be very careful when clicking unfamiliar links in emails luring you with attractive offers, as this could expose you to malware or identity theft. Be cautious when clicking ads on social media.
5. Whenever you buy a product from an unknown online shopping portal, make sure you read the reviews. If a lot of negative reviews have been written against a company, there is a good chance that it is selling fake goods.
6. It is recommended that digital escrow platforms be used for payment. When making an online payment with Escrow, you do not share your financial information with anyone. There is a platform for escrow called Vouch.
How does digital escrow work?
In digital escrow, a third-party account holds the money deposited by the buyer until the seller has fulfilled the terms of the contract. The escrow company supervises the transacting parties.
What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India?
Digital escrow services are offered by many companies in India. Among the most trusted is Vouch.
Vouch’s Digital Escrow service is a transparent way for buyers and sellers to build trust and secure a clean transfer of product and payment. Sellers can feel assured that they will be fairly compensated promptly, and buyers will feel confident that their order will be delivered as expected and on schedule. Vouch Digital Escrow keeps you updated and informed at every step of the transaction process till the end. Vouch’s professionals are always available to assist you with all queries that you may have during the entire transaction process.
There is no scope for deceit or fraud since the payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of the Vouch’s professionals. With Vouch, any business transaction becomes transparent, uncomplicated, and hassle-free. If you ever come across a fraudster asking for OTP, asking you to scan a QR code, or asking you to click on phishing links, you can simply refuse and ask him/her to proceed with the transaction through Vouch.
This is Fraud Story #121. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.
Safety is not just about protecting your credit, debit card number, and UPI accounts. It's about having control of your money till you've received the product or service you bought online!
Note: This is a good-faith initiative to educate the world about avoiding frauds like these and how to act when you're becoming a victim of such a situation.
Do you have a fraud you would like to report? Please write to us at firstname.lastname@example.org