With the lockdown against Coronavirus, people are spending more time on screens, resulting in a rise in cybercrimes, particularly marketplace frauds. Along with second-hand product selling platforms like Olx and Quikr, Facebook and Instagram are also being used by criminals to target victims. 

Two men from Hyderabad were scammed while buying a car on Facebook Marketplace

Due to the social distancing and lockdown, people have been spending more time on social media platforms than usual. Rachakonda ACP for Cybercrime, S Harinath, says many offenders take advantage of this and sell fake smartphones and vehicles to unsuspecting victims. The Rachakonda police have received around ten reports in the wake of the lockdown so far.

A 30-year-old private employee, who was supposed to buy a second-hand car in Saroornagar, lost Rs 1.7 lakh in the last week of March. A Facebook advertisement for the car selling for less than Rs 2 lakh caught his attention and he began a conversation with the seller, who introduced himself as a member of the Indian Army. When he was told the vehicle would be delivered amid the lockdown, he transferred Rs 1.7 lakh in advance, only to find out later that he was cheated.

In another incident, a 21-year-old from Bommalaramaram lost Rs 1.3 lakh after another fraudster, posing as an Army officer working at the Shamshabad airport, advertised his car for sale. In an attempt to scam the victim, the fraudster offered to deliver the car to her. We want to make sure people are aware that during the lockdown, when people can only go to the store to buy essentials or need passes in order to move around the city, such products will not be delivered, the ACP stated.

People from well-to-do backgrounds are most likely to fall for such traps. ACP warned that people should be cautious when fraudsters promise to deliver vehicles and gadgets to their homes during the lockdown.

Also Check: Marketplace future payment: Escrow payment vs Regular payment

How to stay safe from fake sellers on social media?

1. Find out ways in which the seller can be verified, check the comment section carefully before buying from any social media pages.

2. Anyone who shows urgency or doesn't wait for a decent amount of time is likely to be a scammer. You should never pay someone in advance if you do not know him or her.

3. You should never scan a QR code, share an OTP, or visit a link given by anyone on the internet.

4. Fraudsters use fake identification of the army to gain trust. Keep a check on such attempts.

5. Using digital escrow platforms as a payment method is preferred. When you pay through an Escrow payment system over the internet, you are not sharing your information with strangers. One such platform for escrow is 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 #222. 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 letstalk@iamvouched.com