New Delhi: The recent spate of WhatsApp links scam have become a major cyber threat in India. There have been several reports that people are losing money via spam text messages on WhatsApp which has more than 500 million users in the country. Not just international spam calls, scamsters have devised several ways to con WhatsApp users in India, especially the popular ‘like YouTube videos’ scam, where they lure them via WhatsApp and then take them to rival chat app Telegram and siphon off their hard-earned money.
WhatsApp Links Scam: Modus Operandi
A man in Uttar Pradesh’s was duped of Rs 22 lakh in a case of ‘click farm fraud’. As per the FIR lodged with the Cyber Police station in Gomti Nagar, the victim had received a message offering him money in lieu of simple task work, on his WhatsApp. The work involved clicking ‘likes’ on sites and links. He had a talk with one of the staff of the company offering the job and was given Rs 3,000 as profit for the work.
“In order to win the confidence of the victim, the thugs even gave him a return as a salary of Rs 48,450 and then they asked him to invest money from an amount of Rs 4.84 lakh,” the police said. “He was also asked to deposit over Rs 2 lakh as tax and he paid the money in the hope of getting a heavy refund. But the miscreant kept offering bait to him and he finally fell for it by paying over Rs 3 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and Rs 6 lakh for doing different tasks as precondition of getting the invested sum back.”
However, the miscreants stopped taking phone calls from him after fleecing over Rs 22 lakh from the victim in the case.
In another similar case, a software engineer in Gurugram lost over Rs 42 lakh after scammers tempted him with promises of huge earnings for simply liking videos on YouTube, first via WhatsApp message and then adding him to a Telegram group.
n April, with the arrest of four men, Delhi Police claimed to have busted a gang of cyber crooks for cheating over 500 people on the pretext of ‘online trading’ on a huge margin across the country. The official said that the gang members were connected with Chinese accomplices operating from Dubai.
A senior Delhi Police official told IANS that in the past six months, several cases of fraud, ultimately connected to Chinese cyber gangs who are using WhatsApp to connect and lure people, have come to light.
“They lure people on pretext for small earnings just for a ‘like’ and then dupe them of their hard-earned money from banks. Several Chinese gangs have been identified behind such rackets operating across the country and rotating money through Hawala channels,” the official said.
According to police, a woman in her recent complaint said she was searching for a job online when she received a WhatsApp message from an unknown number.
“The message has an offer of paying Rs 50 per like for the link of social media accounts sent to her through WhatsApp. She opened the various links sent by the caller and liked them. She sent the screen shot to the sender named Xarina,” Deputy Commissioner of Police, Central, Sanjay Kumar Sain said.
Xarina asked her to open a Telegram link to receive the credited amount. “She joined the Telegram channel and Rs 150 was credited in her bank account. Xarina then instructed her to join another Telegram channel and like some YouTube videos, which she completed and received Rs 200 in return,” the DCP said.
Delhi Police recently unearthed an international gang of cyber crooks based in China, Dubai and the mastermind sitting in Georgia who have defrauded 11,000 of people on the pretext of providing online work from home jobs in Amazon.
The gang duped crores of rupees on the pretext of providing online jobs. Police arrested three people in separate raids conducted at Delhi, Gurugram and Fatehabad (Haryana) in this connection.
The investigation indicated that Chinese cyber-criminals developed a module to cheat people looking for online work from home or part-time jobs as Chinese loan fraud is now declining due to action by agencies and awareness among people.
It was revealed that the Telegram ID used by the scammers was being operated from Beijing and the WhatsApp number — used to defraud the victim by convincing her to invest into a fake Amazon site — was also found being operated from outside India.
The police then wrote an email to the National Payments Council of India (NPCI) and Kotak Mahindra Bank, seeking beneficiary details of the suspected transactions and it was revealed that a shell firm account had been used to accumulate money from victims.
“During the examination of details received from the bank, it was found that a total of Rs 5.17 crore were credited in a single day. In further money trail, it was revealed that the whole amount was siphoned off further through seven different firms. That siphoning of money has been done to foreign accounts through crypto currency,” the DCP informed.
In another modus operandi, Delhi Police arrested eight people who used to dupe people on pretext of investment and online gaming. The gang used to contact the victims over WhatsApp and offered them to earn money through investment and online gaming.
“After that, they add the victims in a Telegram group and represent that other members of the group are earning good profit in a short span of time. The victim falls in their trap and transfers money as per their instruction and loses his hard earned money,” said the official.
The gang also lured the victims to earn money through online gaming. “They send them the link to their website to play games. If a person wins, they give them coins in their account instead of money when victims ask for money, thereafter they stop responding to him,” said the official.
Whatsapp Scam: 5 Points To Keep In Mind To Avoid Cyber Fraud
1. Avoid clicking on unknown links: The first and foremost rule is not to click on links from unknown numbers. Take a moment before clicking on any links as any offer that looks too good may not be true.
2. Two-step verification: Turn on two-step verification on WhatsApp where the feature will allow you to enter a six-digit PIN to verify your account. This will help you protect yourself from phishing attacks and cyber fraud.
3. Block and report: Always block and report a message from unknown phone number on WhatsApp. If you get any messages related to jobs, make sure that you directly contact the organisation/company for more information.
4. Privacy settings: Make sure to change the privacy settings related to adding to WhatsApp groups. Also, you can change the privacy settings on who can see your profile photo and online status. It is best to share your personal information with only the people you can trust.
5. Check on linked devices: It is essential that you check on the list of linked devices. If you find any suspicious login then quickly log out of all devices.