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A New Fraudulent Activity On The Rise During Coronavirus Covid19 Pandemic By Smart Scammers In India

It is an utterly ordinary and a regular affair to buy items online on various shopping platforms; in fact, the e-commerce retail platform is one of the fastest growing and a prudent choice, especially during the Covid – 19 pandemic.

Therefore, it was no surprise for this family when a package arrived for their son, Nitin. The courier delivery person informed them that the package was – cash – on – delivery item. The parents thought their son might have shopped online. Hence, without verifying from their son, they paid the amount ( A total of Rs 780) and collected the package on his behalf.

But therein lay the hideous joke, when the son opened the package there turned out to be two plastic watches, the kind that the balloon sellers sell for children, one was a plastic apple watch and another a plastic watch again but from an unheard-of brand.

Hence the lesson – do not accept any cash – on – delivery courier packages unless verified by the person in whose name the package is addressed.

The above is just a small but important example of how frauds are being committed.

The surprising factor here is that the package was addressed to the person with – the correct name, surname, spelling, address, phone number ( a private number, not much used and only available to close family members but registered years before on Flipkart as part of customer details)

The only conclusion that one can draw from here is that it is likely and quite possible that the Flipkart customer information has leaked and is being used by fraudsters.

Yes, even a small amount lost to such activities serves a blow and pinches one to no end. The family, in consultation with the son, were of the opinion that even reporting the case to the police made little sense as this is a trivial amount, and to go through the entire hassle of reporting the case, whether it would be given enough importance such that the case is filed (an FIR) and of course of the result.

Hence, the entire family took it as a lesson learned and leave it at that!

There has been an increase in reports of fraudulent activities during the Covid -19 pandemic, with several such cases being reported from all over the country.

The famous fraud case of – the man who promised India a Rs 251 smartphone

In 2017, a case came to light in Ghaziabad, Delhi, wherein Ringing Bells founder, Mohit Goel, was arrested by the Ghaziabad police on allegations of fraud.

The option of buying android phones so cheap had caused a flurry in India and made International headlines.

The ‘business model’ of Mohit Goel was innovative – he revealed to the police that the actual cost of the phones that he got manufactured in Taiwan cost Rs 1431, but he had quite cleverly bundled the phone with 28 pre-installed apps and was charging the app manufactures for the same.

On investigation, he revealed to the police that the idea of offering cheap phones came to him when he found out that the actual cost of newspapers is Rs 80 – 90 per copy but that the reason why it was sold at a nominal Rs 5 is because of subsidies and advertising.

And hence he decided to do the same via selling space internally in the phone’s usability through these embedded apps and advertising.

He sold the phone under the name Freedom 251, got a contract to manufacture the phones from a Taiwan based company, and to fill the manufacturing cost ( Rs 1,431) and the selling price (Rs 251), the company decided to charge Rs 35 respectively from the 28 app companies under the pretext that their pre-installed app would reach lakhs of users who are waiting to purchase the phones.

The company had planned to make a profit of Rs 100 per phone through website charges and advertisements.

On the day of its launch, they were six lakh hits in a minute on their website. They received almost 7.5 crore orders for the smartphones, of which nearly 70,000 phones were supplied on cash – on – delivery basis.

However, an FIR was registered against Ringing Bells when Kirit Somaiya, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader, put allegations against the company, saying it is a “Ponzi bogus company scam)

Meanwhile, a handset dealer also accused the company of not refunding him for an unfulfilled order; the Ghaziabad police then arrested Mohit Goel.

Bank Frauds more than double – Annual Report 2019 – 20 – RBI

According to the Annual Report of RBI, a series of bank frauds have hit the country; bank frauds doubled in the previous fiscal on delayed detection.

Bank fraud worth more than Rs 1.85 lakh crore were reported as of June 2020.

ICICI Bank, State Bank Of India ( SBI), HDFCBank, Bank of Baroda, Punjab National Bank, Axis Bank, Syndicate Bank, Central Bank of India, IDBI Bank, Standard Chartered, Kotak Mahindra Bank, Oriental Bank of India are just some of the names of banks, and several other banks can be added on to the above list – that have been reported for frauds.

Of these, the top contenders are ICICI Bank with the highest 6, 811 frauds involving a sum of Rs 5,033.81 crores, SBI with 6793 fraud cases involving Rs 23,734.74 crore, and HDFC Bank with 2,497 involving Rs 1,200 .79 crore.

There has also been an increase in the number of cases reported by customers of respective banks wherein suspicious purchase transactions on the debit cards ranging from small amounts to large, either online electronic banking frauds or even via OTP/ATM verification, have been reported.

In many instances, phone calls, SMS’s, and even emails asking to verify supposed transactions have been received by account holders.

These are fraudsters attempting to verify how much money is held in an account and how much can be siphoned off from these accounts.

On their behalf, the banks mostly blame the customers citing negligence on their part, and rarely do these debited amounts make it back to the customer’s accounts.

Data Stolen or Leaked from service providers.

It is not uncommon to come across reports of leaked or sold data, especially from service providers such as Airtel, Vodafone, etc. or even from the instance above, online portals like Flipkart, etc. where confidential information – name, contact number, the address is sourced, and fraudulent activities are carried on.

This data is also sourced by several marketing companies; the many sales calls that one receives!

Batti Gul Meter Chalu

Citing the example of this film that is based in rural India and tells the story of inflated electricity bills, a resultant courtroom drama, and talks of social awakening.

In the film, the factory of one of the characters receives inflated bills. Over months, the amount becomes enormous, and unable to pay the bills and with no heed to his complaints, the character takes the unfortunate step of committing suicide.

The lawyer fighting the case asks the defendant – “what is the use of the red light that the electricity meter emits?”

In response, the defendant is unable to explain the use of the red light – and the lawyer tells the court that the cost of this redundant and unuseful light adds up to an enormous expense and is passed on to the consumers at a small charge. But this small charge collected from lakhs of people becomes a massive corpus for the company.

Hence, in conclusion, even fraud with small amounts, done and collected from many people, becomes a massive amount for the fraudsters.

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