The number of people shopping online is increasing at an unprecedented rate around the globe. It is the convenience, the offers, and the discounts that make online shopping popular. The benefits of online shopping actually outweigh the costs of offline shopping due to discounts, offers, cashbacks, and so on.

Online shopping portals often offer discounts and gifts, but you need to be careful as there is a possibility that you can be scammed. Fraudsters take advantage of people who shop online with the promise of discounts and gifts in order to steal their money.

Hundreds of cases have been reported where online shoppers have been scammed by fraudulent gifts and discounts offered by fraudsters under the guise of acclaimed shopping portals. In the last few weeks, Hyderabad police have arrested four criminals for cheating people in the name of an online lottery conducted by a reputed online shopping site. In this case, the fraudulent employees of the portal posed as staff members. According to police, there have been 50 such cases where people were defrauded by discounts and lotteries offered on shopping portals.

Here's what actually happened:

Incident no 1

Recently, a 26-year-old woman lost Rs 96,000 to an online racket run by fraudsters. A person claiming to work for the online shopping portal Amazon called her.  On Amazon Great Indian Sale, she was offered a discount on the OnePlus 7T Pro mobile phone if she spent 5,000 rupees. After making the purchases, she received a fake invoice on WhatsApp. Following that, she was required to pay a refundable amount of Rs 96,000 and other charges. However, she did not receive the money or the phone.

Incident no 2

One 30-year-old businessman lost Rs 1.3 lakh by acquiring a fake Big Bazaar gift voucher. This was after he received an email with a link. He instantly received a message saying he'd won a LED television as soon as he clicked on the link.  For the LED TV to be delivered, he had to pay certain other charges. In total, he paid Rs 1.3 lakhs. However, he never received the TV. 

Incident no 3

Fraudsters posing as employees of Snapdeal conned a Hyderabad woman out of Rs 2,30,000.  The woman purchased something on Snapdeal. Following this, she received a message stating that she had won Rs 6,90,000 and a car. She had to pay some fees before she could receive the prize. She had to pay Rs 2,30,000 for charges such as GST, Registration fees, RTO fees, and so on. However, she did not receive a response from fraudsters after paying the money.

Also Check: QR code scams are on the rise in Bengaluru

How to avoid online shopping fraud:

1. The URL of the online shopping site must begin with HTTPS. This means that the site is secure and that you can make a secure payment. When shopping online, make sure that the site is secure and avoid shopping on unsecured sites.

2. Cashbacks and offers are more appealing to consumers. The trick is used by many online portals to attract customers. You should be cautious of unknown e-stores that offer offers that seem too good to be true as it might be a scam.

3. An online fraudster sends phishing emails that look like emails sent by a legitimate company. Make sure that you are careful if you receive a mail luring you with appealing offers because clicking unfamiliar links may put you at risk of malware or identity theft. Be cautious when clicking ads on social media.

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 #171. 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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