Despite the economic slowdown that has been caused by the lockdown, online crime is not slowing down. There have been scams wherein fraudsters have been able to sneak money out of hundreds of bank accounts by impersonating account holders, tricking people trying to buy liquor online, or deceiving those looking for services. 

Fraudsters come up with new tricks in the midst of lockdown

A Mumbai start-up promoter recently fell victim to identity theft fraud in which the fraudster impersonated an acquaintance overseas using photographs he captured on social media. He contacted him via messaging and social media and tricked him into sending over Rs 2 lakhs for an emergency. Following his detection of the fraud, he filed a cybercrime complaint with the police and contacted his bank. However, the impersonator had already transferred the funds from his account to multiple accounts throughout the country, and from there, to digital wallets.

Similarly, the Maharashtra government announced it would be allowing online bookings for home delivery of liquor, which led to a spate of frauds. There have been several instances of fraudsters creating fake wine shop profiles on Facebook and manipulating the contact information of different wine shops on Google Maps. Customers were duped into sharing their credit card information and OTP for orders to be fulfilled.

In another instance, a bank customer waiting for his replacement card searched the internet for the number of the courier company. The person answering the phone demanded card information for verification and stole Rs 40,000 from the caller's account.

In addition to using confidence tricks, fraudsters exploit people's lack of knowledge about how to use new-age payment apps that allow collect requests.

Also Check: Fraud Story #138- Diamond trader lost 1.29 lakh in KYC update fraud

How to avoid getting tricked by fraudsters?

1. In the event that you are contacted by someone claiming to be an executive of a company or bank. Confirm the information is accurate before you trust it. Get in touch directly with the company by visiting their official website.

2. Beware of calls requesting the downloading of third-party apps. You should block calls asking for confidential information. If the app has already been downloaded, make sure it is uninstalled as soon as possible.

3. Never provide sensitive information like credit card numbers, CVVs, OTPs, UPI PINs, and other confidential information over the phone.  Banks or reputable companies will not contact you for your personal information.

4. Phishing incidents are becoming more common these days. In the event you receive an email or a message claiming to be from your bank or another organization, you must check its official website to verify the sender.

5. 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 #143. 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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