Whatsapp, owned by Facebook, is one of the most popular messaging apps in the world and is a favorite among many. There are millions of WhatsApp users around the world since it makes staying in touch with loved ones easy. Text messages, photos, videos, audio, and voice messages can all be sent and received using WhatsApp. There is even a business version of WhatsApp. As Whatsapp has become increasingly popular, fraudsters target its users to steal money from their bank accounts. Using Whatsapp is therefore risky, so users are advised to use it responsibly.

Your bank account can be robbed via WhatsApp by fraudsters.

This fraud is conducted using QR code scanners. By sending QR codes through WhatsApp, fraudsters fool victims into believing they are making payments. In recent years, this scam has grown drastically and has cost countless people their hard-earned money.

In Thiruvanmiyur, Chennai, a software engineer wanted to sell his washing machine. He posted an advertisement online for the washing machine for the price of Rs.16000. After a few days of posting the ad, he got a call from a person interested in buying the machine. Eventually, after some negotiation, the seller agreed to pay him the full amount and said he would pay him online. The caller sent him a QR code through WhatsApp and instructed him to scan a QR code in order to receive the payment. In a few minutes, when the QR code was scanned and the prescribed procedures were followed, a sum of Rs.32,000 was removed from his bank account. Afterward, the caller switched off his mobile phone and could not be reached. 

Fraudsters use QR codes to approach people offering to sell used products online. The fraudsters contact sellers and claim they are interested in purchasing the products posted online.  Fraudsters also claim that they will transfer the money to a victim's bank account and send a Quick Response (QR) code over Whatsapp for them to scan and receive the money. Actually, this is a collect request. By scanning the QR code and entering the PIN, you are accepting the collect request sent by the fraudsters. After scanning the QR code and entering your pin, money is automatically withdrawn from your bank account.

Fraudsters sometimes send you a WhatsApp message telling you that you won the lottery. You will be requested to scan a QR code sent through Whatsapp if you respond to this message. Fraudsters claim that scanning the QR code will deposit money into your bank account. If you scan the code, you will fall victim to a QR code scam. Remember that the QR code needs to be scanned only in order to send money, not to receive it. 

Even while shopping online, QR code scams occur. A fraudster calls you posing as a customer care executive of a company and asks that you make a payment via QR code. A QR code will be sent to you through Whatsapp. By scanning this QR code, your mobile is infected with malware. Then the fraudsters can take your money directly from your bank account. 

Tips to prevent WhatsApp fraud:

1. The first thing you should do if you receive a message asking for money is to check the number. In the event that one of your friends or acquaintances suddenly has a new number and asks you for money, you should be suspicious at the very least.

2. There are a lot of 'phishing' incidents taking place on WhatsApp. Any link that appears to be malicious should not be clicked on.

3. Your One Time Password (OTP), UPI pin, and other secret information should not be shared on WhatsApp. Never provide banking information if anyone asks you to and always contact your bank. There is a possibility of fraud here.

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.

In what ways does Digital Escrow prevent online fraud in India? 

The Vouch Digital Escrow service ensures a smooth transfer of products and payments while enhancing trust between buyers and sellers. Customers will feel confident that they will be fairly compensated quickly, and that their order will be delivered as expected and on time. If you ever encounter a fraudster who asks you to scan a QR code or ask to get an OTP code or ask you to click on phishing links, you can simply decline and request that the transaction be completed through Vouch. 

For all businesses in India, Vouch Digital Escrow utilizes a non-interest-bearing escrow account, and at every step of the process, you are kept informed. You can always count on Vouch's professionals during all steps of the transaction process to answer all your questions. Since all payments, shipping, delivery, and execution are carried out under the honest and watchful eyes of Vouch's professionals, there is no scope for deceit or fraud. Vouch makes business transactions transparent, straightforward, and convenient.

This is Fraud Story #76. Check back here for more fraud stories and scams that you can protect yourself from.

Escrow payment

Safety is not just about protecting your credit or debit card number. 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. Do you have a fraud you would like to report? Please write to us at letstalk@iamvouched.com