With the rise of UPI-based digital payments during the COVID-19 pandemic, technology has played a pivotal role in our lives. Contactless payment environments offer secure services, but not everything that glitters is gold. However, even the most basic of things can be evil in disguise, despite being straightforward and convenient for users.

QR codes are used by many companies to direct visitors to their apps, including the biggest technology companies in the world. With a QR (Quick Response) app, the code is simply recognized (the longer phrase is Quick Response). All you need is a camera and an app to decode the code. Though these codes appear to be genuine, they may contain a potential threat, which eliminates the need to enter bank account information. Furthermore, as humans, we tend to overlook minor details, allowing fraudsters to perpetrate evil online.

Nursery lost 1.5 lakh to a fraud customer

1.5 lakh has been allegedly siphoned from the bank account of a plant's nursery owner in Maharashtra's Palghar district, two hours north of Mumbai, as a result of people's unfamiliarity with the process of online financial transactions. 

There has been a complaint lodged against an unidentified man who claimed to be an army man and posed as a potential customer.

When the nursery owner "accepted" payment for an order of mango saplings, the police believe he was duped.

The unidentified accused sent a QR code to the victim's account on an online payment portal and asked him to scan it to get the money, Palghar Police spokesperson Sachin Navadkar said. The victim's bank account was debited, however," the official said.

However, the matter did not end here.

The official stated that after stating that he wished to return the money, he asked the victim to provide his account bank details and OTP, through which he siphoned more money.

The businessman allegedly lost nearly * 1.5 lakh in the two transactions, according to a cheating complaint filed at the Dahanu police station.

Because of the Coronavirus pandemic, more businesses and activities are going online, and cyber security is becoming more important, but not enough attention has been paid to this issue.

Although banks and other financial service providers have been warning individuals about online fraud and not disclosing their OTPs to anyone, international agencies, such as Interpol, have said that their assessment of the impact of COVID-19 shows that major corporations and even governments are now at greater risk of cybercrime.

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 #167. 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