A 25-year-old man from Pune was recently duped of Rs 1.28 lakhs after he fell prey to an online scam while buying a second-hand car.
He came in contact with the online fraudsters on an online resale platform in May this year and agreed to make the car payment in installments. Three months later, as soon as the amount reached over rupees one lakh, the dealers stopped answering his calls.
In another incident in Pune, a woman defrauded a youth on the pretext of an insurance policy. The woman posed as a part of an insurance company and took 1.31 lakhs from the victim.
Like the two Punekars, millions of people fall victim to fake online schemes, which are increasingly becoming a common phenomenon.
Though the internet has become an integral part of everyone’s life, there is a huge gap in online literacy that needs to be filled.
Phishing accounted for 29 per cent of all the online scams in the first quarter of 2019 and India stood second on the list as per RSA cyber security, a US-based organisation reported the Business Standard.
Phishing is a common scam that steals a user’s personal information like usernames, passwords, bank details, aadhar and so on.
Scamsters will ask for personal details like name, birth date, address and so on as part of the verification process on WhatsApp, email or social media accounts.
One of the signs to identify this type of scam is to look at the URL or website address. Usually, the prefix for any website is ‘https://’. If the ‘s’ is missing then it is the first warning. Informal greetings like ‘Hi Dear’, a delay in billing, username constantly asking for updates are some other signs.
The Nigerian scam is a good example of phishing where the person will claim to be wealthy and will be willing to share some of the money with you.
Below are five online scams that every individual using the internet should be aware of:
1) Coupon Scam
A very common practice in online retail is the coupon provided by the companies in return for purchasing an item. Here is where the scamsters come in. They will use fake coupons by plagiarising the logos of reputed companies and circulate them online.
The scamster will ask you to share the deal on your social media platforms to avail the coupon. Next, it may be also imperative to like and share the link on your account to lure other friends. And finally, they will ask for a survey which will have your personal details. Once you fill the form and email them, there are chances they will hack your account.
To prevent this, check the authenticity of the coupon by going on the Facebook page and if it does not have blue tick do not redeem the coupon.
2) Lottery Scams
Probably one of the oldest frauds, lottery has gone digital to tempt millions of online users. These come in the form of contests, sweepstakes swindles and lottery games involving numbers.
They come through emails, pop-up banners, advertisements often sending congratulatory messages.
It is definitely a scam if it asks you credit card information or to make any payment or registration fee. It will send a fake check in your name and in return collect payment from you. By the time you deposit the check in the bank, the scammer will remove the money from his account and the check will bounce. In such type of a transaction you lose the payment you made online to receive the lottery amount.
You can also cross check the name of the lottery and its credentials via online searches.
The best way to avoid this type of scam is to refrain from revealing bank details or transferring money no matter how tempting the advert might be.
3) Fake Employment Opportunities
Close to 12 million people apply for jobs every year in India. With high unemployment rate, the freshly graduated youth desperate for a job fall easy victims to scamsters.
On receiving any employment offer letter, scan for all the red flags. If the pay scale and increment is way higher than the standard salary, the benefits are too good to be true or an initial payment is required then it is likely to be a scam.
Go to the company portal and verify if the job offered is authentic via sending them an email on their official id or call the office.
Never give out bank details or engage in online money transfers.
4) Fake Requests on Facebook
Cloning or cloned account is the latest form of hijacking personal information. The scammers will take your pictures that are public and use them to make a new Facebook account. They will then try to send requests to your friends with an aim to befriend them.
Once they do, they will start asking personal questions and for sensitive information.
Last year in September, a message on hacking went viral which later turned out to be a hoax.
Many Facebook users received the following fake message:
“Hi…I actually got another friend request from you yesterday…which I ignored so you may want to check your account. Hold your finger on the message until the forward button appears…then hit forward and all the people you want to forward too…I had to do the people individually. Good Luck!”
The best way to avoid cloning is to secure all the pictures on Facebook by making them private.
Other types of scams include romantic, loan and lottery. Here are a few guidelines to secure your account.
5) Online Shopping Scam
With the festive season in full swing, various e-commerce websites offer big discounts. Check the URL before opening any ecommerce site. Several fake websites exist that can dupe you.
Another scam are the messages circulating on WhatsApp that are basically phishing attempts. These messages usually have a link in them offering discounts on high-end products.
Do not blindly believe all the WhatsApp forwards and refrain from sending them to others.
With 451 million active people online, India has the highest number of internet users after China as per a report by Internet and Mobile Association of India. With so many active users, the cases of online scam are also rampant.
From being alert, installing security apps, tightening the privacy settings to informing cyber crime branch, there are several preventive measures you can take to avoid being a part of digital theft.
For all the cyber related crimes, click here to report.
Featured Image Source: Pixabay
(Edited by Saiqua Sultan)