Due to the Covid-19 lockdown, people became accustomed to shopping for everything online and having it delivered to their doorsteps. Payment frauds are also on the rise as digital payment methods gain popularity. Fraudsters have become increasingly sophisticated and constantly come up with new tricks.  When you transact online, you are at risk of fraudsters draining your bank account if you are careless.

People ordering liquor online are getting cheated by online scammers

As the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) allowed delivery of alcohol online in the city, a 21-year-old student in Bhandup on May 24 received a WhatsApp message about a wine shop in the area that offered the service. The youth, who had already purchased alcohol from the shop earlier, checked Google listings to confirm the number belonged to the shop and then he called and ordered alcohol from them. However, the recipient of the call informed him that there was a problem with the debit card, and requested that the recipient share photographs of the card's front and back sides, as well as the one-time password (OTP) associated with the transaction. After a few minutes, Rs 1.5 lakh was withdrawn from the card's linked bank account.

Several similar fraud cases have been reported throughout the city in the last few days, according to the police. Due to a spike in alcohol demand following the lockdown, online fraudsters were tapping into potential buyers via WhatsApp messages, police said. Despite the legitimacy of the wine shops and their addresses, the scammers alter the phone numbers listed online.

In response to an increase in these cases, several people have taken to social media to warn others. Among the posts on Twitter, the user, known as Kritika, has tagged the Mumbai Police and said that a message with the name "King's Wine" has been spreading in Powai. The 'shop' took orders but failed to deliver alcohol, even after receiving payment, the user said.

In another case, Jinali Shah tweeted that she had ordered alcohol from Mukesh Wines in Borivali, and paid Rs 2,500 via Paytm, but it was not delivered. Another Twitter user, Deven Sharma, who has also tagged the Mumbai Police in his posting, said he paid Rs 3,060 to an online liquor delivery shop in Aarey but did not receive the product.

The Joint Commissioner of Police (Crime) Santosh Rastogi said they compiled a list and released 186 fake phone numbers being circulated online as helpline numbers to defraud people.

Also Check: Man Lost ₹1.81 Lakh to Medicine Supplier Fraud

How to avoid this kind of fraud?

1. Never give sensitive information over the phone, such as your credit card number, CVV, OTP, or UPI PIN.

2. Shops often display their phone numbers in front of their stores. In order to prevent being duped, you are advised to call the number provided by the shop.

3. Don't Google customer service numbers for companies or banks. Check their official websites to find their customer support numbers.

4. Making or receiving payments online is recommended through a digital escrow platform. Escrow does not require you to share any of your financial information with anyone. There is a platform that provides escrow services 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 #132. 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 letstalk@iamvouched.com