Fraudsters share QR codes over WhatsApp and ask that the code be scanned to receive money into their accounts. It is actually a collect request. By scanning the QR code and entering your PIN, you are agreeing to this request. You must scan the QR code only to make a payment and not receive them. Sadly, some innocent individuals are unaware of this feature and fall prey to the fraudsters' tricks.
When receiving money, never scan QR codes
A businessman from Hyderguda in Rajendranagar, Rajesh Kumar (name changed), decided to put his independent house up for rent on a few online classifieds platforms. He was contacted within a few hours by an individual claiming to be military personnel recently transferred to Hyderabad. He offered to take the house on rent for ₹25,000 per month.
It was accepted since the person was a member of the military and offered a fair price for the house. A few minutes later, he sent Kumar a link containing a Quick Response (QR) code which he was to scan in order to receive two months rent in advance into his bank account.
Kumar scanned the QR code, hoping to receive a payment, and contacted the alleged army personnel to inform them. Kumar was told that the officer was experiencing technical difficulties and asked him to scan with another bank account number. After scanning the code with a different account, Kumar received a message indicating that Rs 87,000 had been deducted from his bank account.
Kumar called him immediately. An "army personnel" apologized and said the mistake was his fault. He promised to redirect the funds back into his account. After phoning several times, he did not respond.
As per reports, it is just one of a number of cases in which gullible individuals from the State capital lost money from their bank accounts after cyber fraudsters sent QR codes to their mobile numbers when they wanted to buy products, rent houses, or buy second-hand goods.
There have been over 170 QR code fraud cases involving over Rs 25 lakh lost to victims by the cyber crime police in Hyderabad and Rachakonda this year alone.
Here are some tips on avoiding this fraud:
1. Verify the person’s name against the information obtained from an identification service, such as Aadhaar or some other form of personal identification.
2. Scan a QR code only when you need to make a payment, not to receive one.
3. Your One Time Password (OTP), UPI pin, and other secret information should not be shared over the phone. Never provide banking information if anyone asks you to 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 #146. 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