Almost everything we do these days is done online, from buying things to paying bills. While online transactions are convenient, they aren't without their downsides. A single mistake can be very costly when you transact online if you are not careful. In a recent incident, a 25-year-old Mumbai-based investment banking analyst lost Rs 87,420 while buying beer online.

Online beer purchases are risky: A woman loses Rs 87,500

A woman from Mumbai wanted beer delivered to her home. She sought out nearby alcohol stores through Google and called the Star Wine shop's phone number. The person who answered the call requested her to pay Rs 420 via the mobile wallet in order to receive the three beer bottles she had ordered.

For the payment to be processed, she was required to provide her UPI or Unified Payments Interface ID. She provided the UPI ID as requested. Immediately after sharing the details, her bank account was debited with Rs 420. Soon after, she received another message stating that Rs 29,000 had been debited from her bank account.

The victim stated that she did not tell anyone about the One Time Password (OTP), which was sent to her mobile number during the first transaction. There were no other details shared, such as debit or credit card numbers, as well as the PIN.

As soon as her bank account had been debited for Rs 29,000, she called up the same number (listed in Google) and inquired as to what was going on. According to the person who answered, money was incorrectly debited from her bank account and she would receive it back shortly.

After feeling that something was amiss, the victim visited the wine shop in person. The amount of Rs 58,000 had already been deducted from her account in two transactions by the time she reached the store.

She inquired with the shopkeeper about the fraud that had taken place on her account as soon as she reached the store. She was told by the shopkeeper that she had called the wrong number. Upon learning this, she filed an FIR at the police station.

You may also be interested in: Fraud Story #173 - A person lost Rs.1,00,000 while transacting on Google Pay

H​ow to avoid this kind of fraud?

1. You should never rely on the customer service number that appears on Google. You should instead go to the original company website and obtain the number there.

2. You should never give out personal information, such as credit card numbers, CVVs, OTPs, and unified payments interface IDs, to anyone over the phone.

3. 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 #180. 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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