Srinagar, India —
With the fraudsters taking advantage of the internet and luring users’ by new tricks, online security has become extremely important. Online fraudsters have been constantly employing new ways in order to trick an internet user to fall into their trap.
From emails, SMSs to social media apps, the cybercriminals are leaving no stones unturned to target individuals online. In a place like Kashmir, where a large population is not well-informed about online security, the episodes of online frauds are more common but under-reported at the same time.
Recently, Cyber Police Station (Kashmir Zone) in Srinagar registered a case against online fraudsters who duped a lady of Rs 22 lacs on the pretext of having won a lottery. The complainant had stated that she received an email/SMS informing her that she had won a lottery and the prize money shall be assigned to her in foreign currency denominations.
She was then asked to pay for various charges like registration fee, processing fee, tax etc before the lottery prize money could be transferred to her. The lady then transferred an amount of Rs. 22 lacs (approximately) to various bank accounts of the fraudsters. The lady after transferring the amount made efforts to get in touch with them but failed.
This is not the first such case in the Valley. People have been tricked into transferring money into the bank accounts of fraudsters before as well. Cybercrimes of different nature have also been happening at the same time.
Ab Hamid from Awantipora area, who is a labourer by profession, was left fuming after being deceived by an unknown person, days after 2G mobile internet was restored in the Valley since August 05, 2019. He received a call asking him to provide an OTP from his phone so that “his SIM card details are verified and 4G internet restored on his number.”
Without informing any of his family members, he immediately spelt the OTP. One hour later, he received a message from his bank which read, “Your A/C XX57892 is Debited by INR 14000 at 12:29 on account of NEFT. A/C Bal is INR 174.6 Cr, Available Bal is INR 174.6 Cr.”
In another incident, Shania (name changed), a college student from Pulwama town, recently tried to create an account on the popular messaging app, WhatsApp after her brother installed a VPN app on her smartphone. When she finally managed to load the app, she found her phone number was already being used by someone.
“I was so scared after finding my phone number compromised. I started receiving random messages and had been added in some groups which were probably operated by some people from Indore. One of the groups was named Indore Fitness Hub,” she said.
Later, she deleted her account but decided against lodging a complaint in the local police station. “I provided an OTP to an unknown caller recently who made me believe that he was a representative from Airtel. How can I be so dumb,” she lamented.
Victims of such online frauds usually receive emails, SMS & calls from unknown people, misinforming them that they have won a lottery worth millions or claim to represent a reputed company.
In order to be safe online, there are certain things that one needs to take care of. Some of the basic rules for ensuring online security for an average internet user could be the following:
1. While browsing a website, always check the green padlock (SSL) on the address bar.
With Secure Sockets Layer (SSL), web browser validates that an HTTPS web server is authentic so that the user can feel secure that his/her interaction with the web site has no eavesdroppers and that the web site is who it claims to be.
However, always check the address bar when visiting a new website. “Amazon.com” is authentic while “amazon.lujeguhi.com” is not. (Refer to the screenshot as an example).
2. When receiving an email, check if the email address is of the company whom the email claims to represent.
‘Billing@amazon.com‘ is authentic while ‘Billing@àmazon.com’ is not. Also, do not reply to messages in the SPAM folder of your email.
3. Never provide OTPs, received on your phone, to any unknown people. Those who claim to represent companies while asking for such OTPs are fraudsters only. Neither telecom operators ask for OTPs nor any officials from your bank.
4. Always download Apps for your smartphone from the official App Store like Google Play for Android. These apps are scanned and verified from Google itself before hosting them.
5. Do not click on suspicious links on any application or website. Messages which ask you click a link to enter a free contest, get a free data pack or enrol for a free offer are all fake.
6. Never trust anyone who asks you to pay a small amount of money to win a larger lottery prize. When someone calls you and pronounces you as a winner of a lottery, he will ask for a transfer fee or other charges in order to pay you the lottery amount. Be smart and ask them to deduct the amount from the lottery amount itself. The immediate response would be that your call will be dropped!
So, be aware the next time you receive a suspicious message or an email.