Thanks to Google, life has become easier. The search engine allows us to find answers for almost anything. Whenever we want to look for something, we go straight to Google. Due to the rapid increase in internet users, online fraud has also increased.

Almost every day, scammers come up with new ways to steal money from bank accounts. Now, Google is being abused in a new way to deceive those searching for information.

Mumbai student scammed out of Rs 4.37 lakh by attempting to increase transaction limits to pay hostel fees

In Mumbai, a 22-year-old science graduate who was aspiring to go to the Netherlands for further studies was scammed out of Rs 4.37 lakh by cyber-criminals. The student was defrauded by a cyber-fraudster under the guise of an SBI bank official when they convinced her to transfer the amount for the purpose of increasing the student's daily transaction limit in order to pay the hostel fees in the Netherlands.

She told police that she holds an account at SBI bank and her daily transaction limit is Rs 1 lakh. In addition to her college admissions, she had to pay some more money for her accommodations in a hostel in the Netherlands.

In the afternoon of July 27, she searched on Google for the SBI customer care number. Upon dialing the number, a fraudster picked up and claimed to be SBI bank official Rahul Sharma and attempted to speak with her.

She told him that she wanted her daily transaction limit to be increased. In order to access the mobile phone remotely, the fraudster asked her to download and install the Anydesk app. In response to his instructions, she allowed him access to her phone at around 8:55 pm and he was doing something on it while she was speaking with him. After that, Rs 99,999 was debited from her account.

Within five minutes, Rs 3,11,800 more had been taken from her account. After realizing she had been duped, the student uninstalled the app and switched off her phone. However, another Rs 25,000 was debited from her account after midnight, at 12.46 am. A total of Rs 4.37 lakh was lost by the student to cybercrime.

Also Check: Facebook 'friend' scams Mumbai nurse of 17 lakh in cybercrime

How can people avoid this fraud?

1. Do not rely on the customer service number that pops up on Google, instead, go to the official website of the company to get the customer care number. Verify that the website you visit is legitimate and secure.

2. Don't let a stranger walk you through the process of installing a mobile app. It might be a scam if he requests that you change your mobile settings.

3. Don't give anyone your credit card number or OTP over the phone. You will never be asked to provide those details by a bank or company.

4. The use of digital escrow platforms for payments is recommended. When you make an online payment with Escrow, no financial information is shared. 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 #211. 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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