Modern technology allows people to do many things online in just a few clicks. It is possible to buy or sell products or houses online. Although modern technology has many advantages, it also has many disadvantages. Online fraud is on the rise, and fraudsters are becoming more sophisticated. Several fraudulent websites have been created over the internet by fraudsters to trick innocent people. 

IT firm owner scammed out of Rs 4.95 lakh when looking to rent office space online

The owner of an IT company, 52 years old, was allegedly tricked into handing over Rs 4.95 lakh by online fraudsters while searching for office space in South Mumbai.

Apparently, the complainant, who was in Mumbai looking for office space, was tired of visiting offices personally and started searching online instead.

Following the man's input of his requirements and contact details into the portal, he was contacted by a woman, identified as Sana, on June 14, who told him that he needed to register and pay Rs 25,000 to receive priority service.

In spite of paying the money, the fraudsters told him that the money had not been deposited, so they asked him to repeat the transaction, resulting in him paying a total amount of Rs 1.25 lakh that day.

A phone call later requested an additional refundable deposit of Rs 3.25 lakh, which would be refunded once the desired space had been found, police said. The man paid Rs 4.95 lakh already but received a telephone call asking him to pay an additional Rs 10 lakh.

After this, he became aware he had been cheated and lodged a police complaint. According to the Indian Penal Code and the Information Technology Act, a case has been registered.

You should also check: Fraud Story #117 - Milkha Singh's wife scammed out of Rs 99,000/-

How to avoid online shopping fraud: 

1. Take a close look at the contact information on the website. Most fake websites do not provide contact information.

2. HTTPS is required at the beginning of the URL of an online shopping website. By doing so, you are assured the website is secure, as well as your payments. Avoid shopping on unsecured websites and only use secure ones.

3. Consumers are more likely to be intrigued by cashbacks and offers. A number of websites offer cashback and offers to entice customers. If an unknown company offers that seem too good to be true, you should investigate as it could be a scam.

4. Cybercriminals appear to be legitimate companies when they send phishing emails. If you click unfamiliar links in emails luring you with attractive offers, you may be exposed to malware or identity theft. When you click on social media ads, be cautious about them.

5. Make sure that you read reviews before you purchase a product or a service from an unknown website. A fake website is likely to have a lot of negative reviews written against it. 

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 fulfills 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 #124. 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. 

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