Scammers take advantage of online shoppers using tricks like lottery draws and smart deals. People often receive messages, calls, and emails stating they won lakhs of rupees in the lottery and that the money will be credited to their bank accounts. Those calls and messages are usually fake, and fraudsters use them to defraud innocent people for their hard-earned money.

 It is well known that such communications are fraud, so many people ignore such communications. Many innocent people, however, mistake this for truth and lose their hard-earned cash as a result. People have lost money through prize money fraud in so many cases. In a recent case, a Hyderabadi woman lost Rs 2,30,000 to prize money fraud.

Here's what happened

A lady from Hyderabad purchased a potato cutter on Snapdeal for Rs.250. Following the order, she received a message that she had been awarded Rs.6,90,000 and a car as well. To receive the prize money and car, she needed to pay a deposit as well as various other fees. Fraudsters had been sending messages to the lady until she paid the amount.

 As the victim believed this deal was true, she paid Rs.2,30,000 in the name of various fees, including GST, registration fees, RTO fees, etc. The lady transferred the amount to the bank account provided by the fraudsters. As soon as the money was transferred to the fraudsters' account, she stopped receiving messages from them.

 When she did not receive a response, she realized that she had been cheated and filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime Station. The police have arrested the four members of the gang after receiving a complaint. There are also two other gang members who are absconding.  While arresting them, the police seized 12 mobile phones, 19 SIM cards, two laptops, a scanner/printer, two pan cards, four fake Aadhar cards, four debit cards, a Scorpio car, and five fake identification cards in the name of Snapdeal.

 In these cases, the fraudsters have access to all shopping details of online shoppers, including their shopping history, emails, and delivery addresses. Fraudsters are misusing customer data of huge e-commerce companies to cheat people through lucky drawings and discounts. The "Lucky Winner" scam comes in many forms, but the end goal for scammers is to lure you into giving them your email address, phone number, or any other personal information you shouldn't share. 

It is not the only case where people have lost money to price money fraud; many other cases have been reported.

Also Check: Fraud Story #74 - Beware of lucky draws and smart deals.

How to avoid prize money fraud

1. You should never respond to unsolicited offers received via e-mail, messages, phone calls, or other channels.

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

 3. Don't give out your personal baking information to anyone.

 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?

With digital escrow, a third-party account holds the buyer's money until the seller complies with the contract terms. An escrow company supervises all parties involved in the transaction.

What is the role of Digital Escrow in preventing online fraud in India? 

Vouch Digital Escrow ensures the smooth transfer of products and payments to buyers by securing transactions between buyers and sellers. Customer orders will be delivered on time and customers will be fairly compensated quickly. Fraudsters will usually ask for QR codes or OTP codes or ask you to click on phishing links, but you can easily avoid them by declining and requesting the transaction to be completed with Vouch. 

Vouch Digital Escrow offers non-interest-bearing escrow accounts for companies in India, and you will be kept in the loop throughout the process. During the whole process of payment, shipping, and deliveries, Vouch's professional team continuously watches over every aspect, so that cheating and fraud are impossible. Vouch's professionals will answer all of your questions throughout the transaction. With Vouch, business transactions are transparent, streamlined, and convenient.



This is Fraud Story #94. 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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