It is more common for scammers to target sellers on online classifieds. The seller will receive calls from fraudsters expressing interest in what you are selling and discuss a price. Once this is done, a QR code is sent to the seller. It is scanned by the seller in order for the remainder of the payment to be received. The ploy, however, is not so innocent. In such a scenario, the seller would end up sending the money to the scammer instead of receiving it.

A Mumbai man was duped of Rs 1 lakh by a fraudster who orders 4,000 goggles for Galwan soldiers

A Mumbai-based businessman was duped of Rs 1 lakh by a man posing as an Army officer and asking him to supply safety goggles to soldiers in the Galwan Valley.

The optician said that he operates an online store and that he was contacted by a cyber fraudster who identified himself as Anand Singh and told him he is an Indian Army officer.

The fraudster told the optician that the Army would need 4,000 safety goggles in Galwan. An optician eager to earn a big order agreed to a price of Rs 55 for each pair of goggles.

The two parties then decided on the date and the location of delivery. They decided the optician would deliver the 4,000 goggles to Videsh Bhavan in Bandra-Kurla Complex.

The fraudster said that he will pay in advance for the goggles. The fraudster somehow managed to convince the optician to scan a QR code and hand over bank details for the money transfer. Upon scanning the QR code, Rs 60,000 was deducted from his account. Upon knowing the fraudster had withdrawn the money, the optician called him.

In his conversation with the optician, the fraudster claimed they wanted to make him a regular supplier of the Indian Army. He then convinced the optician that he needed to pay another Rs 40,000 to become a supplier for the Indian Army. He ended up paying Rs 1 lakh to the fraudster.

Once the fraudster refused to meet him and told him they didn't receive the money, the optician realized something was amiss. He reported it to the police, and a case was filed under the IT Act.

Here's what you can do to avoid this fraud: 

1. Giving out personal information to unknown callers is never a good idea. Before you give out your personal information, make sure you know whom you are dealing with.

2. If you're asked to scan a QR code to receive money. Remember, a QR code can only be scanned when you're sending money.

3. Your One Time Password (OTP), UPI pin, and other secret information should not be shared with anyone. Never provide banking information to anyone, and always contact your bank. There is a possibility of fraud here.

4. 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 #127. 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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