Scammers exploit people on social media by offering them free gifts, lottery tickets, and smart deals. People are sometimes sent fake friend requests and messages by fraudsters posing as friends. These messages and requests are usually used by fraudsters to steal hard-earned money from innocent people.

It usually begins with a phone call, friend request, email, SMS, or WhatsApp message. The fraudsters claim to have sent the victim an expensive gift. Receivers must pay the processing fees or the transfer fees before receiving their gift. Once funds are sent, fraudsters will run away with their money.

Woman duped of Rs 12.71 lakh by an unknown Facebook user

A 53-year-old woman claims she was scammed out of Rs 12.71 lakh by an unknown person she befriended on Facebook. As reported in the Indian Express, the person allegedly demanded money from the woman, a Walkeshwar resident, under the pretext of sending her money and expensive gifts from the UK.

As per the complaint filed by the woman at Gamdevi police station, she was approached by Kelwyn Megan in May about becoming friends on the social networking site. She began chatting with Kelwyn and they exchanged phone numbers. According to his profile picture, he was wearing a uniform, so the woman thought he was an airline pilot.

Additionally, they shared photos of themselves, although Megan only provided pictures of his uniform. Additionally, Megan told the woman that she loved her and planned to marry her. The woman told police, that he told her on June 1 that he sent her a gift as he wasn't able to meet her on her birthday.

She received a phone call from a woman claiming to work for Delhi Airport and identifying herself as Jayanti Verma. Having explained to the woman that Kelwyn Megan had given the woman a gift, she had asked her to pay Rs 37,850 as a processing fee.

Even as she transferred the money, Verma reportedly asked her to pay a fine on a number of occasions that amounted to Rs 12.71 lakh. A woman was threatened with arrest as a result of the gift containing cash.  

The woman approached the police after Verma asked her to pay another fine on June 11. The police conducted an investigation after receiving a complaint of cheating and impersonation.

Also Check: Mumbai doctor loses Rs.17 lakh to online fraud

How to avoid this type of fraud - 

1. Unsolicited offers received via email, text messages, phone calls, or other means should be discarded.

 2. If you receive a call from someone who claims to be a lottery representative, do not pay an advance fee.

3. There are a lot of 'phishing' incidents taking place on social media. Be careful when accepting requests that appear suspicious.

 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 #199. 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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