With massive digitisation, online fraud cases are on the rise in India. Not only through calls but also using new strategies, scammers are now expanding their reach to messaging services like WhatsApp in an effort to con victims to fulfil their criminal agenda.
Officials in the department of telecommunications said that the country has been seeing a surge in telephonic and online scams since the peak days of the Covid-19 pandemic. But scammers also keep adopting innovative ways to steal money from victims. For instance, AI voice cloning scams have created a buzz in recent days.
Since a significant number of Indians fall into the trap of these criminals, it is becoming more essential to make them aware of the pitfalls, say observers. So, here are some of the most common online and telephonic scams prevalent in India:
Fake job scams
Scammers typically generate bogus job advertisements on employment sites or social media. The job postings are frequently for highly lucrative positions with less experience. The fraudsters will get in touch with people after they apply for the jobs and demand money for further progress.
In some cases, posing as representatives of employment agencies, scammers contact people and promise to assist them in finding permanent, part-time, or work-from-home jobs. They frequently demand payment for their services and disappear once they receive the money.
A Delhi woman lost about Rs 9 lakh to a fake job offer scam after the fraudster asked her to pay the so-called processing fee to secure a content writer position.
Fake government grants or schemes
Scammers pose as government officials and offer people grants or new schemes. The fraudsters often use social media, emails, calls, or text messages to target their victims. Once they successfully gain a victim’s trust, they ask for personal information or money to “process” the grant.
Recently, the Press Information Bureau issued a fact-check warning against a fake government scheme that is circulating online. The bogus post claims that the government is offering free laptops to students and unemployed youth. PIB has advised people to beware of such fake schemes and not share their personal information with anyone who claims to be from the government.
Fake parcel agency scams
Cheats will send text messages or emails that appear to be from a courier service such as DHL or FedEx. The messages or emails will say that the recipients have packages waiting for them, but that they need to pay a fee to have them delivered. They may also create fake tracking websites that look like real ones or call while pretending to be customer service representatives.
One such case involved a Mumbai resident who received a scam call from a fake FedEx customer care operator and Mumbai police officials.
In another case, the family of a retired Indian Army brigadier was cheated out of Rs 4.47 crore by fraudsters who posed as FedEx officials.
Fake law enforcement scams
Scammers pretend to be government or police officers and ask for victims’ Aadhaar, ATM, and PAN card details. The fraudsters may say that the victim owes money, or they are investigating a case and the victim’s details are required, or ask to pay a fine.
Recently, people reported receiving calls from so-called Delhi police officers who were asking for such information.
Fake romance scams
Con artists will create fake profiles on dating websites or apps, using stolen photos, made-up names and information to pose as someone they’re not and contact people to build a relationship.
After building trust, the scammers frequently employ a method known as “love bombing”. This entails giving victims undivided attention, gifts, and praise to make them feel special so that money can be coaxed out of them easily.
According to a report by Norton, Indian consumers lost an average of Rs 7,966 due to online dating scams in 2022. The report also found that nearly three out of four victims suffered financial losses.
Apart from these five scams, there are a few more concerning issues noticed across the country including phishing scams, tech support scams, and WhatsApp scam calls. Additionally, some have said that tricksters have called them up, claiming to be a friend, neighbour, or someone their parents know, seeking immediate online transactions.
As per the reports, UPI payment request is also a new addition to this scamming saga in which fraudsters send money to a victim and then call them to say it was a mistake. When victims repay the money, malware infects their devices and gives scammers access to their bank and KYC details.
However, there are a few ways to stay safe from any of these scams:
Be suspicious of any unknown calls, messages, or emails.Never click links in emails or texts that you get from unknown senders.Never provide private information to a stranger, including your bank account number, Aadhaar, or OTP.Report it as soon as you can to the police or the cybercrime cell if you believe you may have been a victim of fraud.