Fraud Alert: Bogus, Fake Donation Scam
Humans are fundamentally good. Whenever someone requests help or support, people tend to extend a helping hand, especially if it requires nothing more than a small transfer of money. They don't think much or investigate before responding to something that tugs at their heartstrings. Scamsters are masters at understanding the human psyche and have begun to develop this positive trait by duping people through bogus and fake donation scams. 
Last year, I wrote about how crowdfunding the cost of expensive surgery in the name of poor and needy patients, had turned into a racket. A doctor, well aware of surgical costs, helped expose how fundraising websites are colluding with hospitals and fake documents. Perhaps some of the patients may also have been fake. This week, I will bring to you a shocking exposé by Mohammed Zubair (@zoo_bear), a fact-checker and co-founder of AltNews, of one specific fraudster and his many social media avatars to make a fast buck.
Bogus, Fake Donation Scam
Mohammed Zubair's thread on X (erstwhile Twitter) is about one Sandeep Mandal, who uses different names and fake social media IDs and crowdfunding portals like to raise funds for various reasons, with absolute impunity. Apparently, people are willing to donate without even checking details of a profile on social media. 
Mr Zubair shows a profile under the handle Ritika Annie or @GoneGirlAnnie (on X), who claimed to be the co-founder of @HelpingHooks, which helped street dogs and the poor, was fake. The images used on the profile were picked up from the Instagram account of one Ritika Sheoran. Even the photos used by this account were picked up from an Instagram page of pawdiarieswtaniishi, he added. When one tried to donate to the fundraiser put out by the handle, the banking name appeared as 'Sandeep Mandal', he says. But this was, apparently, not the only fake ID that was used by this account.
Another person called Sahban (@someone_404) shows that account details provided by @GoneGirAnnie got to one Dipika Mallik.
On the @DipikaMallik09 account, Sandeep Mandal used photos of one Shilpa Badgujar's son and the prescription for his fake campaign, Mr Zubair says.
Mr Zubair's thread also has details on this. He says, "During Covid times, there was a similar fake account by the name Prachi Sharma @PrachiGuddy claiming to be a journalist. It was run by Sandeep Mandal. Same phone number." 
Sandeep Mandal also created fake profiles on X in the names of Yukti Mishra (@MishYukti), and Nikita Verma (@NikitaVerma70).
In one case, Sandeep Mandal, using X account @smitamandal089, shared a fundraiser link which was copied from an original fundraiser by one Raj Kumar Singh (@SOMVANSHIS) for his ailing mother. Mr Singh's fundraiser was closed, but Sandeep Mondal's fundraising continued till he raised Rs6.27 lakh, out of which almost 80% of the money was withdrawn.
According to Mr Zubair, Sandeep Mandal sometimes uses Sandeep Manan as his name with the same bank account number. "Does that mean joint account? Many fell for it and helped raise money."
Mr Zubair says these (fraudsters) people have looted people since COVID-19 by creating multiple fake Twitter accounts. "They have misused fundraising platforms like @ketto and @milaapdotorg. Not sure if anyone filed a cyber complaint back then. But because they were not arrested, they did that again using the same bank account details and phone numbers. I hope the victims will now file a police complaint," he added.
So, how does an ordinary person identify whether the fundraising is for a genuine cause? The answer is simple. There are always innumerable people in need of funds. If you want to donate money, make sure you do your own check, confirm the genuineness of the cause, or only donate when the person taking responsibility for fundraising is someone you know and every step of the process is transparently shared. Otherwise, it is best to stay away.
Also, watch out for sentimental or emotional claims with fewer or almost no details. Be suspicious if you hear a lot of vague emotional claims, for example, how nobody cares for the poor, needy people or animals, which don't give specifics on how your donation would be used.
There seems to be another dodgy racket of a similar nature that is ripping people off under the guise of education and jobs. Educationist and activist Maheshwar Peri has exposed one Vivek Bindra in an X thread. He says, "This man started off as a motivational speaker, uses a concoction of religion and nationalism and appeals to the inane need to make easy money. Like all charlatans, he has the gift of the gab. He was exposed by @SandeepSeminars too."
Those interested can look up the thread, which exposes how Mr Bindra became Dr Bindra and runs a 10-day MBA programme for the 'over 25 crore students in India looking for jobs'. The bottom line is people end up signing up and paying for something other than what was promised.
How To Report Cyber Fraud?
Do report cybercrimes to the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal or call the toll-free National Helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c). 
If the fraud is related to your bank account, you need to immediately send an email to the official email ID of your branch (you can find it on the bank's website or your passbook) with a copy to the bank's customer care. Even if you have called the official number for customer care, you must still send an email describing your conversation with the bank executive, along with the time, date, and duration of the call. This will be helpful if you face a liability issue with the bank.
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