Many people in Valley complain of messages from people, masquerading as politicians and journalists, asking for help on social media platforms.
As the fear of COVID-19 was beginning to scare people to stay indoors, cybercriminals saw this as an opportunity to trick the gullible internet users in the Valley. Many people complain of messages from people, masquerading as politicians and journalists, asking for help on social media platforms.
“On March 24, I received a message from a Facebook profile. When I saw the message, it was sent by one person who was pretending to be ‘Abdul Gani Kohli’ – a former minister of Jammu and Kashmir,” Ashiq Hamid, a resident of Pulwama says.
He says, “He asked me to transfer Rs. 15000 in his bank account. He said it was an emergency. Sensing that this was someone else pretending to be the former minister, I asked him to send me his bank account number. As he sent the details, it was some “Naresh Rao”. When I insisted for his personal bank account number, he denied by saying there was some problem with his account.”
Understanding the trap, Ashiq asked him to at least call him once so that he can transfer the money with peace of mind. In response, the person operating the fake Facebook account deactivated his profile.
Although, Ashiq dealt with the criminal with ease but not everyone is so well-acquainted. Vulnerable lot of people like Gulzar Patigaroo from Chadoora Budgam have not been so smart.
Gulzar recently lost some three thousand rupees on few Virtual Private Network (VPN) applications which, according to him, promised instant increase in mobile internet speed. “A friend sent a link over WhatsApp for getting the subscription of a premium VPN app named ‘Wonder VPN Pro’. Without thinking much, I registered and paid Rs. 1250 on the website but after installing the app, there was no increase in internet speed.”
“As I thought of complaining to the VPN company, I opened the link again. It was shocking! The page was no more online as it displayed “no such file or directory” error,” he said, in a sad tone as it was the third time that he lost the money to a fake VPN company.
Khursheed Dar, one more victim of online fraud, lives in a hamlet of Pulwama. He lost two thousand rupees on face masks and sanitizers that he ordered but never received. “I ordered the items in bulk as there was shortage of such items here. It was on JustDial.Com that I got the contact details of a dealer in Delhi. As I called him, he asked me to pay two thousand rupees in advance. When I did, he never picked my phone,” Khursheed laments.
Many other cases of cybercrimes go unreported in the Kashmir Valley due to the lockdown in place to check the spread of COVID-19. People need to be more vigilant than before as the cybercriminals are putting in all their efforts to loot vulnerable netizens during the pandemic times.