Life has become a lot easier thanks to Google. The search engine allows us to find answers to almost anything. Our first stop when looking for information is Google. Because of the rapid growth in internet users, there has also been a rise in online fraud.
Scammers seem to discover new ways of stealing from bank accounts every day. Searching for information on Google has become a new way for people to be cheated.
Recently, a resident of Sector 49 fell victim to the scam when he looked for customer service number to recover an amount of ₹9,500 that he paid through PhonePe.
Senior citizen loses ₹1 lakh to Google search fraud in Chandigarh
A 67-year-old, Baldev Raj Paul, a resident of Young Dwellers Complex, Sector 49, filed a police complaint accusing an unknown person of fraudulently withdrawing ₹1 lakh from his bank account.
Paul made a transaction of ₹9,500 from his Citi Bank account on a mobile phone application PhonePe. Even though the transaction failed, the amount was deducted from his bank account.
After raising this matter with his bank, the elderly gentleman was informed that the money would be credited to his PhonePe wallet soon. When he did not receive the funds after some time, he searched online for the bank helpline number. He called a number that came up on Google search and it was answered by a fraudster posing as a bank employee.
He informed the complainant that his funds would be credited into his bank account and asked for his confidential information. After providing the information, Paul received two messages indicating withdrawals from his bank account totaling Rs 1 lakh.
Upon receiving the complaint, Sector 49 police station registered a case under sections 420 (cheating) and 120-B (punishment for criminal conspiracy) of the Indian Penal Code.
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. Don't give your banking details to anyone over the phone. Banks or businesses will never ask you for your personal information over the phone.
5. 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 #219. 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 firstname.lastname@example.org