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WhatsApp forward promising PM Modi scheme for double recharge is a scam

Cashing on the ignorance of users, social media platforms are increasingly being used to scam people.


Ever since demonetization, and the ruling government s vow to digitize the Indian economy, several incidents of cyber criminals trying to trick users into sharing delicate information like bank details, have been reported. Since the sudden digitization is still new to the Indians, many of us also tend to fall prey to these scams easily. In series of such incidents, a new scam is being circulated on WhatsApp that involves a link to a fake website carrying the name and picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

The link lures users to tap on it and claims that on a recharge of Rs 500 to Rs 1,000, users will get double the amount as top-up on by their telecom operators. The link also claims that this is a scheme run by the Prime Minister. Now, what really happens here is, that the website makes a user complete transactions and takes a whatever amount they do the recharge for.

While users don’t get any free recharge, the amount they pay for also does not get added to their mobile balance. But they do end of up losing the money entirely. Any time a user makes the payment for the recharge, at the end of the process the transaction shows failed on the website, but the money gets deducted from their account.

Here, not only do users lose their money, but they also end up sharing their bank details on a very unreliable website, which probably retrieves the data you feed in on the transaction gateways. A senior police officer of cyber cell told India Today that the amount of these top-ups are usually small and so people don’t turn up to register an FIR, but these hoax websites end up making huge profits. ALSO READ: WhatsApp iOS update lets you send messages without internet; here s how it works

“It is highly advised, that if any user receives such a message, they should immediately delete it so that even by mistake they don’t end up tapping on this and forwarding it to their contacts. Such malicious links not only can affect your device, but may also seep into your phone and steal data,” Kisalay Chaudhary, cyber crime expert told the publication.

“These bogus websites try to appear like an official Government of India website or related to telecom operators to trap gullible customers. Government website are .gov.in or .nic.in but fraud websites are -gov.in or _nic.in which may appear real but do not belong to government. So all people making online transaction should be very alert about the website they are browsing. WhatsApp has been a breeding ground for such activities and spreading malicious links,” he added. ALSO READ: Beware of WhatsApp video calling invite link, it s a spam

This isn t the first time such a hoax has been circulated. Earlier this month, a message on WhatsApp was circulating that claimed that the Prime Minister was offering a free Rs 500 recharge to all Indians. The message read, Rs 500 balance for every Indians. Reforming India. Modiji giving free balance. Click here. The words click here were followed by a link to a new webpage, which once tapped on, asked a user to share their personal details like, their contact number, operator name and the state they live in.

And it s not just through messages, these scams are being run on every possible platform. Late last year, Internet expert Pranesh Prakash pointed out a fake Narendra Modi app, which actually claimed to be from the Government of India and its interface looks almost identical to the original application. However, when he dug deep, he found out that the app developer of the purported Government of India Narendra Modi app was actually a person based out of Bangladesh, suggesting that the app was possibly hosted by a con artist.

Once downloaded, the fake app, automatically got excessive permission including full network access and ability to take pictures and videos from a user s device. The original Narendra Modi app, on the other hand, only gets access to read, modify and delete user s media files. Also, the original app was published by Narendramodi.in and the fake one shows under the name of Government Of India. ALSO READ: PM Narendra Modi launches BHIM app for mobile payments; here s how it works

And this isn t the only fake Narendra Modi app, if you launch the Google Play Store right now, you would easily be able to spot a score of fake apps like this. Within a week of launch if the new UPI app BHIM, we spotted 40 odd apps that were claiming to be the original BHIM app.

BONUS VIDEO: The demonetization effect: Go cashless with these mobile wallets

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  • Published Date: January 24, 2017 4:05 PM IST



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