FRAUDALERT
In 2009, Germany, technologically one of the most advanced nations, ended electronic voting with the Federal Constitutional Court finding that the inability to have meaningful public scrutiny meant that electronic voting was unconstitutional.

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An hour after Himanshu Singh dropped off his son for a joint entrance exam (JEE) mock test, he received a call from a 'police inspector' saying his son had been caught with a gang of rapists and demanded Rs30,000 through Paytm to clear his name. Mr Singh also heard his son's voice seeking help and requesting him to pay the money. He went ahead and paid Rs10,000.

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Everyone who runs any business, big or small, wants to ride the artificial intelligence (AI) wave of using chatbots to help resolve consumer issues. Such interactions with AI chatbots often leave consumers frustrated by their bland, repetitive and standard responses. Then again, human customer care executives often behave the same and provide similar responses.

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Tata Restart not only misuses the Tata brand name but also mischievously uses images of former group chairman Ratan Tata, to promote a typical get-rich-quick investment plan.

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A few days ago, Bollywood actor Vidya Balan filed a first information report (FIR) against a person who was running a fake Instagram account in her name. According to the police, the person used the account to extort money from people in the film industry.

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It is a standard bus stop in a city. One person with a red velvet rope creates a section for seating at the bus stop. He labels it as a VIP section and charges a fee. Three curious commuters pay the charges and tightly sit on the bench meant for two people.

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Delhi-based Ashish Kumar Tomer received a message on WhatsApp offering him the opportunity to earn money by rating restaurants on Google. The sender claimed to be from Career Builder Ltd. When he accepted the offer, he was added to a Telegram group. After completing some rating 'tasks', he was asked to 'invest' more money to complete tasks with more rewards. Then, he was added to another Telegram group, where he was offered huge returns on investment.

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A few days ago, one of my friends, working in a reputed organisation and earning a good salary, received a WhatsApp message offering a job opportunity to earn Rs3,000 per day just by clicking ratings on Google Maps to increase the client's business reputation. This is just one example of the messages sent out by fraudsters and cybercriminals to lure and then dupe gullible people.

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Last month, a 70-year-old senior journalist from Bengaluru received a call on WhatsApp informing her about a parcel being sent from Mumbai to Taiwan in her name that contained 240 grams of MDMA (drug), credit cards and passports. When she denied it, the caller said that her Aadhaar was being used for sending the parcel and a case had been registered against her.

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Last month, the national consumer disputes redressal commission (NCDRC) directed HDFC Bank Ltd to refund Rs24,000 with an interest of 7%pa (per annum) and pay Rs10,000 litigation cost to a customer whose credit card was used for fraudulent transactions at midnight. What stands out in this ruling is the way the customer filed his complaint and his meticulous follow-up until he got justice.

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Rakesh Chandra, a recently retired officer from the Indian Forest Service (IFS), received a call from someone claiming to be an officer from the treasury department. During the call, Mr Chandra shared all his banking details with the caller. When he eventually realised it was a fraud call, Mr Chandra had lost nearly Rs29 lakh that he had received as pension settlement.

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Ratan Tata and NR Narayana Murthy are two well-respected business leaders. One thing common to them is that they do not offer investment advice. So, when videos surfaced where they were heard recommending a certain investment scheme or the use of a particular investing platform, it created ripples across the country.

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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.

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Mumbai-based Manoj Kumar Poddar needed a business loan and when someone offered him the loan at a lower interest rate, he readily agreed. He even paid nearly Rs1 crore as a fee or commission to obtain the 'attractive' (read lower) interest rate offered on the loan. However, he neither received the loan nor the lower interest. He is one of the victims of the loan fraud. But more about it later.

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Many Indians think that the year's most significant discounts and offers end with Diwali. With online shopping, it no longer holds true. Most online e-commerce portals align their marketing with global practices so festive and holiday discounts remain active until the first week of January.

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While cybercrime is increasing at an alarming rate, the number of first information reports (FIRs) registered and, thus, the rate of conviction, remains relatively low. In December last year, the Union government told the Lok Sabha that since 1 January 2020, 1.6mn (million) cybercrime incidents have been reported and more than 32,000 (FIRs) have been registered.

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Incidents of cyber fraud and data breaches have increased at such an alarming pace that earlier this week, M Rajeshwar Rao, deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI), asked banks to improve their customer grievance mechanism and provide the right support to those who are affected.

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As artificial intelligence (AI) systems are getting more integrated into our daily life, there is a growing tendency among users to get hold of free AI tools. Cybercriminals have rightly spotted this weakness as an opportunity to spread malware capable of stealing users' login credentials.

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The big shopping frenzy and the deals, discounts and offers that are part of all major festivals like Diwali, Dussehra or Christmas are enormous business opportunities for cybercriminals, too.

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