You must know what a QR code is. Essentially, it is a Quick Response code that is used for contactless payments. QR codes enable you to make payments by simply scanning them. Paying for goods and services is easy with this technology since the process can be completed with minimal effort. Sadly, it is being abused by fraudsters to defraud innocent people. Therefore, you must be careful the next time you scan the QR code. Our blog will cover all the information you need to know about this scam.​

Incidents from real life

A 30-year-old man placed an advertisement on an online marketplace to sell his mattress. He received a call from a person claiming to be a military member a few hours after registering. It was stated that the caller is interested in purchasing the mattress for Rs 23,500. Additionally, he offered to transfer the amount and sent the seller a link to a Quick Response (QR) code that he asked the seller to scan.

A deduction of Rs 10,000 was made from the seller's account as soon as he scanned the QR code. In contacting the buyer, the buyer admitted that it was a mistake and asked to scan the QR code again to refund Rs 10,000 along with Rs 23,500. After scanning the QR code again, his bank account was debited by another Rs 40,000. He tried calling the number again, but it was unavailable.

On another occasion, a person lost Rs 46,000 to a similar kind of fraud when he was attempting to sell a motorcycle online. In his introduction, the fraudster explained that he was an army personnel looking to purchase the motorcycle. A scammer sent a QR code to the victim stating that he would transfer the money. A withdrawal of Rs 46,000 was made from the victim's bank account as soon as the QR code was scanned.

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How Does QR Code Fraud Work?

QR codes are similar to bar codes, and they can be read by machines. Scanning the QR code allows you to make payments to another person. Many apps and e-wallets offer these features to make payments easy and convenient. Fraudsters share QR codes and ask buyers to scan them to receive money into their accounts. It is actually a collection request. You agree to it when you scan the QR code. The QR code can only be scanned to make a payment, not to receive them. Unfortunately, some people are unaware of this feature and fall prey to the scammer's tricks.

How to avoid a QR code scam -

1. Despite the value of QR codes, it's wise not to scan any unidentified QR codes, but to treat them as shady links you'd rather not click to prevent being scammed.

2. Never reveal personal information to unknown callers. Know who you are dealing with before giving out your personal information.

3. You may be asked to scan a QR code in order to receive money. Please keep in mind that a QR code can only be scanned when you are sending money.

4. 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.

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 #149. 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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