It is no secret that online scams have started to affect many Indians nowadays, as the frequency and sophistication of scams increase. Scammers are continually trying to find novel ways to trick unsuspecting victims into traps that allow them to siphon off their hard-earned money, and in some cases, even steal user identities.
This growing threat is starting to affect a majority of users—across a wide array of platforms—be it the job scam prevalent on WhatsApp and Telegram, or the fake Army officer scam that runs on used goods marketplaces and real estate websites.
In the present day, it is paramount to be aware of the most prevalent scams in the country in order to safeguard oneself from potential harm and loss. Here, we will learn about some of the most common online scams operating in the country, how they function, and how to protect oneself from them.
Most Common Online Scams In 2023:
Online Job Scams
Ever come across a text from a foreign number offering you a part-time or full-time opportunity to earn money by completing simple tasks such as liking YouTube videos or writing reviews for products, and more? Well, these are elaborate scams—designed to steal your money by first earning your trust after giving small payouts to you, but later, they ask you to invest substantial sums of money. Once you do, they cease communications, never to get in touch again.
Apart from asking you to invest money, these scammers also ask you to reveal sensitive details about yourself, such as Aadhar information, which they can further use to scam other people.
To be safe from this kind of scam, never reply to them, accept calls, or get lured with attractive offers of substantial money gains in a short amount of time. Always remember that accomplishing simple tasks won’t make them any money, so how would they pay you? Be safe and block anyone who gets in touch offering such a job to you.
SIM Swap Scam
The primary objective of SIM Swap scammers in this scam is to obtain personal data, which they can use in collaboration with someone from a mobile network or perhaps even trick them to obtain a duplicate SIM card. They can get access to your SIM after learning your address details, Aadhar card information, and this likely takes a while to execute.
First, a scammer, acting as a support agent, courier delivery person, or someone else may get in touch with you to ask your address and share your identification. Next, they may send you phishing links or ask you to install random apps, but this only happens in some cases; in most of them, only a few calls are enough to collect users’ data, and on the basis of that, issue a duplicate SIM card.
The chances are local telecom agents may be with scammers to execute this, but it is more likely that you end up revealing too much information about yourself, and that gets used against you. To be safe from the SIM Swap fraud, never disclose addresses, Aadhar numbers, or any other sensitive data such as your PAN that could be used to convince a telecom operator. Further, you can also use SIM locking to protect yourself.
Fake Army Officer Scam
Scammers have figured out a new way to siphon off money from people posting ads for used goods on platforms like Olx, or property ads on platforms like Magicbricks and 99acres. To gain the trust of people, they are posing as officers from the Indian Army, CISF, police, and other government organizations. What’s concerning is that these scammers are providing copies of authentic government IDs like canteen cards, Indian Army ID cards, etc., to convince victims for a deal.
In most cases, these scammers make offers that are too good to be true. First, they usually don’t negotiate, and this leaves the seller/buyer happy. Secondly, they offer to pay you outright, and this is where they trick you. Instead of sending money, they generate UPI requests, and in the heat of the moment, people accidentally send them money.
These scammers may also post ads for luxury or expensive goods such as iPhones on used goods websites and tend to list them at a price that is way cheaper than the market rate. You can easily come across fraud sellers with iPhone 15 Pro or iPhone 14 Pro models for roughly 40-50% cheaper than the market rate. Once you get in touch, they would say they are stationed in a remote place and ask you if you can accept the phone through courier, and without giving it thought, many send payments only to never hear from them again.
Courier Delivery Scam
Scammers use fear to trick people with this scam. More often than not, they would call unsuspecting victims pretending to be from a courier delivery company like FedEx and say that their package was confiscated with “illegal substances” such as drugs, fake passports, and multiple credit cards.
Next, they ask you to get in touch with a random police officer who would warn you of “consequences” and ask you to get on a video call, and then transfer some money, accusing you of money laundering or some other serious crime. Once you transfer the money for inspection, the scammer runs away, and you would never hear from them again.
Moreover, they may even try to gain your trust by telling you that someone else might have used your Aadhar to commit the crime, but these are just tactics they have designed to dupe innocent people.
In a variation of this scam, victims are urged to pay a nominal amount as courier cancellation fees or delivery charges. Upon clicking the link sent by the scammer posing as a delivery agent, money is deducted from the user’s account.
‘Pig Butchering’ Scam
As the name suggests, this scam involves earning the trust of a victim (fattening the pig) and then later, metaphorically “butchering” them to run away with their money. Zerodha CEO Nikhil Kamath also warned users about the same and explained the analogy behind it. He said the reason for this strange analogy is that scammers first build up trust with their victims before they take advantage of them. This is like fattening up a pig before slaughtering it.
Mostly they use the pretense of establishing a relationship, gaining the trust by befriending someone—usually of the opposite sex, and then, even pretend to be in love with a victim. More often than not, these scams are done using fake online social media profiles and tricking youngsters and people who may not understand a scam of this scale and scope. They may ask you to help them with money or ask for help during an emergency situation.
To avoid scams like these, don’t reply to job offers or random requests on messaging apps and social media, never download or click on foreign apps or links, and always think twice before making any decision.
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