With cyber criminals learning new and innovative methods to dupe, everyone, irrespective of age and education, needs to be on alert mode 24x7, and always refrain from sharing any personal and financial information with an unknown person or entity. As pointed out by experts and enforcement agencies, data protection is going to be a big challenge for everyone in the future. Companies and individuals will have to make maximum efforts to protect data from hackers and cybercriminals.
Some fraudsters have created fake e-commerce websites, and a few have even created mobile banking apps that resemble authentic apps in every aspect. Luckily, Delhi police busted one such organised gang operating from across the country and arrested 23 people. But that will not deter other cyber criminals still out in the open looking for a gullible bank customer.
Fake Banking Apps
Delhi Police busted a pan-India network of fraudsters by arresting 23 accused persons in connection with a fraud being committed with a fake version of State Bank of India (SBI)'s internet banking app -- 'Yono'. These criminals were running a 'parallel network' that was cheating people due to the resemblance to the banking app.
Speaking with IANS, a senior officer says, "The modus operandi of these scammers starts with an SMS sent to your android phone. Initially, the racket will send bulk messages with a link disguising that it leads to the 'Yono App' fake page. They host fake phishing pages on various platforms like 'ngrock' and others. Once the account holder feeds credentials on the fake net banking page, the accused logs simultaneously into the victim's original account. Within no time, they will withdraw the saving of their 'prey' from different locations."
The investigation, in this case, brings out the most dangerous part - the organised manner in which these criminals were operating from different locations across the country. The locations include Surat, Kolkata, Girdih, Jamtara, Dhanbad, and Delhi National capital region (NCR).
While investigating one case, where a customer was defrauded under the pretext of updating know-your-customer (KYC) through the fake mobile app, Delhi police found more than 100 such cases. With help from SBI, the police launched a joint investigation and found that, out of these 100 registered complaints, 51 have links with Delhi.
Police traced links shared by the fraudsters and the websites hosting these links and analysed mobile calls and money trail. The gang used six modules from across locations to dupe bank customers.
One group was involved in creating and hosting phishing links, and another was procuring fake SIM cards for sending bulk SMS and calls. The third module involved sending the phishing links and calling the victim if he did not feed the one-time passcode (OTP) on the phishing page.
The fourth group simultaneously logs in the victim's net banking and transfers the funds to fraudulently procured bank accounts. Another module involved procuring fraudulent bank accounts; the last group was withdrawing money from these bank accounts.
"If any gang member is apprehended, then others used to go offline and thus become untraceable. We devised a strategy and simultaneously conducted raids at their hideouts at seven places across India," the officer says.
This episode again highlights the importance of checking and verifying any mobile app you are downloading or have already downloaded. If you are an Android user, visit the Google Play Store and check the description under 'About this app' tag. Here you will find information about the app, its developer and the permissions required by the app. For example, the Yono app is provided by SBI.
Also, check data safety details and reviews/ comments by other users on the app. This will help you avoid installing fake mobile apps.
Fake E-Commerce Websites
Last week, the Intelligence Fusion & Strategic Operations (IFSO), the special cell of Delhi police, busted a pan-India syndicate involved in duping 'gullible' customers through fake e-commerce websites.
KPS Malhotra, deputy superintendent of police at IFSO, told IANS that Ravi Arora and Dinesh Sharma, the two accused arrested created fake commercial websites in the name of aggarwalandsons.co.in, hindsolution.co.in, bansaltraders.com, sunsolar.com and various others and cheated "gullible persons all over India to the tune of around Rs60 lakh".
Interestingly, the national cyber crime reporting portal shows 32 more complaints filed against aggarwalandsons.co.in.
According to the police, these cheaters used search engine optimisation (SEO) on their fake websites, displaying household articles and electricals from reputed and well-known brands at cheaper prices than other e-commerce platforms. Due to the SEO, their website and products appear on the first page of the search engine.
"Customer would visit their websites and find the prices of the household articles/electricals shown cheaper than the other renowned e-commerce websites. Customers would get attracted towards them and pay the prices, but the articles were never delivered to them despite making payment," police say.
Undoubtedly, online shopping provides ease of buying things at your convenience, but make sure that the website or mobile app that you use is from a reputed and established e-commerce company. Also, before placing any order on a new website or app, search for its name on the internet for any complaints of cheating consumers. This will help you decide whether to place your order from the new website.
What to do if you are a victim?
File a police complaint and also report the matter to the national cyber crime reporting portal http://cybercrime.gov.in
or call the toll-free national helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c).