Believe profile picture cost Rs28 Lakh; The threat of the loan application continues
A significant difference between the real world and the technology-based virtual world is that things are not what we expect or want them to be. Especially when you’re on social media, not everyone you meet might be a real person and that’s where the big danger lies. The trust factor must be taken into account in the virtual world, otherwise every experience there will end up as a harsh lesson. Consider this example of a civil servant who transferred Rs29 lakh to someone who had used the profile picture of the Managing Director (MD) of a company on WhatsApp.
Believe in WhatsApp profile picture costs Rs28 Lakh!
Bengaluru Police Cyber Crime Department is looking for a person who impersonated the Managing Director (MD) of a private company and tricked its Human Resources (HR) manager into transferring Rs28.8 lakh online.
In his complaint, company owner Nirmal Jain said the fraudster sent a WhatsApp message to Thirupathi Rao, the HR manager, claiming to be Paras Jain, the MD.
This incident raises many questions about the money that was transferred and the gullibility of the HR manager, but highlights why profile pictures posted on social media, and even WhatsApp numbers, can be fake. Ideally, if you receive threats or requests from unknown numbers, you can report the person and block the number on WhatsApp.
We are relatively lucky in India that deepfakes are not seriously fooling people yet. Deepfakes take an existing image or video and replace it with someone else’s likeness using artificial neural networks to create an alternate, unreal episode.
Calling an unknown sender can sometimes clear things up, but there is also a risk that you will be further fooled by a smooth conversation. It is imperative to be vigilant and check who you engage with.
Fake Chopper Ride for ‘Char Dham Yatra’!
Even as the tourism industry struggles to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, scammers are finding new opportunities to trick travelers. More than a dozen people have been duped by a fake website that offered a helicopter ride for ‘Char Dham Yatra’ in Uttarakhand. In the last month alone, five cases have been reported to Lucknow Cyber Cell and 10 to Uttar Pradesh (UP) Cyber Police.
According to one such victim, she paid 50,000 rupees for a helicopter ride to the shrines, but she and her family members were not allowed to board the helicopter in Dehradun. The tickets she had “reserved” were fake! She had booked them with a person claiming to be an agent of Pawan Hans Ltd of Dehradun. The scammer took copies of the family’s Aadhaar, passport and COVID-19 vaccination certificates and collected Rs 50,000 for the tickets. He then sent tickets for the helicopter ride on WhatsApp, but they turned out to be fake.
The important lesson here is not to use the services of an unknown third party without verification. And as for the Char Dham Yatra, there is an authorized helicopter service provided by the tourism department.
Handling international calls using local SIM cards
Karnataka police have busted a gang with the arrest of its six members accused of converting international calls from Middle Eastern countries to local calls, causing losses to the national treasury.
Police seized 16 SIM box devices, two Session Initiation Protocol (SIP) long distance devices, nine Primary Rate Interface (PRI) devices, five laptops, six routers and 205 BSNL SIM cards. used to convert international calls to local calls.
SIP trunks are essentially virtual phone lines that allow users to make and receive phone calls over the Internet to anyone in the world with a phone number.
Without going into technical details, the disturbing aspect of this fraud is the number of SIMs obtained and used by the gang. They bought BSNL SIM cards from UP, Madhya Pradesh, West Bengal and other states. With a copy of Aadhaar, it became relatively easy to get a SIM card from a provider. And when Aadhaar is used, the know-your-customer (KYC) checks tracked by mobile service providers are minimal. Many scam gangs purchase SIM cards in bulk using mostly Aadhaar copies obtained from several paid sources. In most cases, the people whose Aadhaar is used to buy the SIM card have no idea and only know when the police come to their house.
Lending apps continue to harass borrowers
When the borrower uses a shortcut while borrowing money from lenders, there are bound to be consequences. This is best explained by the problems created by the loan applications which provide the small loan in an easy way. However, the borrower often fails to notice the higher interest rates and the ensuing harassment in the event of a single default. Lending apps access a borrower’s phone and siphon off contacts, photos, text messages, and even stored documents.
Mumbai police have compiled a list of 100 loan apps and sent them to India’s Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In) for blocking, following a series of complaints about digital lenders blackmailing borrowers.
However, there are complaints on social media about these lending apps sending threatening messages and calls from foreign numbers. Some of the apps are blocked but keep harassing defaulters.
One such user complained of receiving threatening calls and WhatsApp messages from a Sri Lankan number.
The lesson of these loan applications and harassment of borrowers in case of default is always to apply to an entity regulated by the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), even though there may be a long process or time to get a loan.
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