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BEWARE! Multiple WhatsApp Messages Promising Free Recharge During The Lockdown Are Fake

Multiple WhatsApp forward are doing the rounds promising free recharge, internet and data during the lockdown to deal with the same. The claim reads “A complete lockdown, coronavirus outbreak, and free internet, while the first two are unexpected and uncontrollable, the third comes as a hope in the distressing time caused by the first two.”

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Claim

Multiple WhatsApp forward are doing the rounds promising free recharge, internet and data during the lockdown to deal with the same. 

The claim reads “A complete lockdown, coronavirus outbreak, and free internet, while the first two are unexpected and uncontrollable, the third comes as a hope in the distressing time caused by the first two.” 

Forward 1: Jio इस कठिन परिस्थिति में दे रहा है सभी इंडियन यूजर को ₹498 रूपए का फ्री रिचार्ज. तो अभी नीचे दी गई लिंक पर क्लिक करके अपना फ़्री रीचार्ज प्राप्त करें 👉🏼 https://jiofree.online

कृपया ध्यान दे:  🙏 यह ऑफर केवल 31 MARCH तक ही सिमित है!

Forward 2: To counter the Corona virus 🦠 we offer you 1000GB of free internet connection to stay at home safely and enjoy the internet Activate the internet package 🌐www.internet-covid19.com

Forward 3: अपने मोबाइल को रिचार्ज न करें नरेंद्र मोदी 400 रुपये के रूप में दे रहे हैं। अपने प्रोजेक्ट (स्मार्ट सिटी) के लिए शानदार सफलता के लिए। इस मैसेज को 13 लोगों को भेजें और पांच मिनट के बाद अपना बैलेंस चेक करें।

 वोडाफोन * 111 * 6 * 2 #।

 एयरटेल * 121 * 2 #।

 आइडिया * 123 * 10 #।

 एयरसेल * 165 * 6 * 1 #।

 Jio -1991।

 मैं भी हैरान हूं

 पर यही सच है

Verification

When these claims were first sent to our WhatsApp number for fact-checking, we prioritized claims related to potential cures and precaution measures as they were more likely to spread and cause harm. 

Forward 1

The first forward claims that the Indian telecom company Reliance Jio is offering a recharge of Rs 498 for free. As per the forward, to avail of the said benefits, one has to click on the link “https://jiofree.online”.

As we began fact-checking this claim, we found that the webpage that opens after clicking on the given link isn’t the official page of Reliance Jio. The webpage that opens has a picture of Mukesh Ambani, seemingly created for phishing purposes. 

We also noticed several grammatical errors in the content, for instance:

  1. A message that keeps moving from right to left has no full stop.
  2. यह ऑफर सिर्फ 31 MARCH 2020 तक ही उपलब्ध है इसलिए अभी निचे फॉर्म भर कर फ्री में 498 रुपये का रिचार्ज प्राप्त करे. अभी तक 1631702 JIO यूजर ने यह ऑफर का लाभ ले लिया है.Here the text highlighted in the red color is wrong.
  3. The website clearly mentions that it is not endorsed by Jio. The warning message reads, “We are not endorsed with Jio and doesn’t store any user data.”
  4. Again the sentence is not grammatically correct and contains error(s).

When we proceeded further to submit the details asked on the website, the input also took dummy data without validation. (For example, see the screengrab below)

After submitting the dummy data, a new page opened that read “To avail the free data you have to advertise Jio and in order to do so you should click on the green button so it can be shared on WhatsApp. You can share this with 5 WhatsApp contacts or in 5 WhatsApp groups and as soon as you do this, as promised, free recharge of Rs 498 will be initiated on your number.” 

Ironically the website claimed to recharge a number (In this case 123456789000000000000) that is not registered with Jio or any other telecom company.

As it is evident from the details cited above that the website is fake, below is a screengrab of the official website of Reliance Jio.

It is noteworthy that as per the Who.is data of the website, the website was created on March 24, 2020, and as per the official updates by the telecom giant Reliance Jio, they haven’t launched any website on March 24, 2020.

Hence it is imperative from the above-mentioned findings that the website is fake and is created for the sole purpose of phishing.

Result: Fake

Forward 2

The second WhatsApp forward reads, “To counter the Coronavirus 🦠 we offer you 1000GB of free internet connection to stay at home safely and enjoy the internet Activate the internet package 🌐www.internet-covid19.com

We clicked on the link in the second forward and it again asked us certain questions related to the Covid19. It is noteworthy that the questions were asked to give the website an authentic feel as asking for your number or asking you to share something on WhatsApp directly can alert a user and it is highly likely that many will not fall for it. 

After answering the questions, similar to the viral link in the first WhatsApp forward, it too asked us to share the link on WhatsApp. Notably, this is a usual practice by phishers.

As per the who.is data of the website, similar to the link mentioned in the first forward, this website is also newly created. The who.is data of the website informs that the website was created as early as on March 23, 2020.

Hence it is proved from our findings that the second WhatsApp forward is also being circulated for phishing purposes only.

Result: Fake

Forward 3

The third WhatsApp forward doesn’t contain any link but claims if the viral forward is shared with 13 WhatsApp contacts, a recharge amount of Rs 400 will be credited to the number from which it is being shared. The viral forward claims that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is giving this on the success of the smart cities project.

The viral forward reads, “अपने मोबाइल को रिचार्ज न करें नरेंद्र मोदी 400 रुपये के रूप में दे रहे हैं। अपने प्रोजेक्ट (स्मार्ट सिटी) के लिए शानदार सफलता के लिए। इस मैसेज को 13 लोगों को भेजें और पांच मिनट के बाद अपना बैलेंस चेक करें।

 वोडाफोन * 111 * 6 * 2 #।

 एयरटेल * 121 * 2 #।

 आइडिया * 123 * 10 #।

 एयरसेल * 165 * 6 * 1 #।

 Jio -1991।

 मैं भी हैरान हूं

 पर यही सच है”

As we know, this is a popular phishing technique and often practiced by phishers across the globe. We checked the Twitter handle of the Prime Minister, his personal Twitter handle, his personal website, the official website of Prime Minister’s office, his Instagram profile and his Facebook page, we found no mention of any such announcement.

Hence it is evident that the third WhatsApp forward is also fake and is created for the sole purpose of phishing.

Result: Fake

Sources

  • Google Search
  • who.is 

(If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form)

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Coronavirus

Claim On Pune’s Steam Bar Treating or Preventing COVID-19 Is False

Steam inhalation as a treatment or preventive measure of COVID-19 is not listed by the World Health Organisation.

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False claim on Pune's steam bar treating or preventing COVID-19

A social media user claims that a steam bar with inhalers treats or prevents COVID-19 in Pune. The claim is accompanied by a video which shows people seated in front of pipes used as steam inhalers. 

“Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune” the tweet reads. 

Other social media users have shared this claim as well. 

Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune: #corona #Covid19 #fightwithcorona

Posted by LIVE Ahmedabad on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

लो कल्लो बात 😎Latest business in #India: The Steam bar, It is inhalers, which treats or prevents #COVID19 in Pune:

Posted by Sanjieva Shankhdhar on Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Fact Check/ Verification

Different states in India continue to witness a rise in COVID-19 cases. Maharashtra, the epicentre of coronavirus in India has 2,75,404 active cases as of 8am on 25 September. It’s followed by Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Uttar Pradesh which have 95,568, 69,353 and 61,300 active cases respectively. 

At a time like this, the claim on Pune’s steam bar with inhalers has been shared by many social media users in the past few days. 

Steam inhalation can thin mucus and help it drain from the nose when experiencing  nasal congestion. “Controlled studies show that these remedies do not kill viruses in the respiratory tract. Besides, there are no studies testing the effect of these remedies on preventing infection by the novel coronavirus,” state the voluntary group of scientists, Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19, in their Hoaxbusters section. 

The Hoaxbusters section on the Indian Scientists' Response to COVID-19 website debunks steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment.
The Hoaxbusters section on the Indian Scientists’ Response to COVID-19 website debunks steam inhalation as COVID-19 treatment

On the other hand, a 2015 study published by the Spanish Pediatrics Association takes note of the burns or scalds that can be caused due to hot water or steam. “Steam inhalation therapy (SIT), which has been used traditionally and is still employed today to treat mild respiratory tract infections despite the lack of evidence to support its effectiveness, can also cause burns indirectly through scalding.”

Also steam inhalation as a treatment or preventive measure of COVID-19 is not listed by the World Health Organisation

“While some western, traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate symptoms of COVID-19, there is no evidence that current medicine can prevent or cure the disease,” notes the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India. 

On 23 September, Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital, Dr FaheemYounus, responded to the initial claim saying, “ Let’s not turn fear into business. This is completely useless.”

Note: We were unable to locate the exact steam bar from the claim. 

In the last six months, we’ve also debunked many other claims related to cure and prevention of coronavirus. You can read related fact checks here

Conclusion 

The recent claim which states that a steam bar with inhalers treats or prevents COVID-19 in Pune is false. Currently, there is no known medicine or treatment that can cure COVID-19. 

Result: False 

Our Sources

Indian Scientists’ Response to CoViD-19: https://indscicov.in/for-public/busting-hoaxes/

A study by Spanish Pediatrics Association: https://www.analesdepediatria.org/en-severe-burns-related-steam-inhalation-articulo-S2341287914001343

World Health Organisation: https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public\

Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, GOI: https://www.mohfw.gov.in/

Chief of Infectious Diseases, University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Hospital, Dr FaheemYounus: https://twitter.com/FaheemYounus/status/1308820077324701696?s=20

WebMD: https://www.webmd.com/cold-and-flu/qa/how-do-i-use-steam-for-congestion


If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044 or email us at checkthis@newschecker.in. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form.

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Coronavirus

False Claim About People in China Not Taking Any Medicine Or Vaccine For Coronavirus Goes Viral

Contrary to the claim which says that people in China have stopped going to the hospital for cure, news report from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency says otherwise.

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People in China are not killing coronavirus with heat or recovering in five days.

Claim 

A social media post claims that the Chinese aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus. They’re instead killing the virus with heat and recovering in five days. 

We received the above image on our Whatsapp verification number. The claim which is an image of a social media post allegedly posted by Tahir Mahmood Chaudry starts with a disclaimer that the message is a translation from an Indian living in Wuhan. 

Using keywords we found multiple social media posts with the same claim being circulated since April, 2020. See of few examples below:

Fact Check

The claim in context was allegedly posted by Tahir Mahmood Chaudry, Executive director at Ovex Technologies. Chaudry’s social media profiles confirm his designation, but whether he posted this claim or not remains unknown. We’ve reached out to him for verification and will update the copy if we receive a response. 

Moving on to the first part of the claim which says, 

“Chinese are not taking any medicine or any vaccine for Corona virus. Every household has a Corona virus case. They have stopped going to hospital for cure. They instead kill the virus with heat.” 

We found no credible news report or information from any official source which supports the claim that every household in China has a COVID-19 case and that they aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for it. 

Contrary to the claim which says that people in China have stopped going to the hospital for cure,  a 30 June news report from China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency states, “By Monday, the Chinese mainland had reported a total of 1,918 imported cases. Of the cases, 1,830 had been discharged after recovery, and 88 remained hospitalized. No deaths from the imported cases had been reported.” 

The second part of the claim states, 

“Very Hot Steam Inhalation from kettle 4 times a day

Hot Gargles 4 times a day

Hot tea 4 times a day

Virus dies in 4 days.

5th Day you are Corona Negative.”

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says that our normal body temperature remains around 36.5 degree Celsius to 37 degree Celsius irrespective of temperature of the bath or shower. In fact baths from extremely hot water can burn us. 

The WHO also also clarified that while some traditional or home remedies may provide comfort and alleviate mild COVID-19 symptoms, there is no known vaccine or medicine to prevent or cure the disease so far. 

The Ministry of Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha and Homoeopathy (AYUSH) in its immunity boosting guidelines recommends general measures such as drinking warm water, herbal tea, and steam inhalation among other things. But it also clearly states that this advisory is in no way a treatment for COVID-19.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare (MOHFW) in its COVID-19 guidelines also states that there is no vaccine or specific antiviral medicine to prevent or treat the novel coronavirus. 

You can read our other fact checks related to the novel coronavirus here.

Conclusion 

The social media post claiming that the Chinese aren’t taking any medicine or vaccine for coronavirus and other included details are false. 

Tools Used

  • Google advanced search 
  • Twitter advanced search

Result: False 

If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form.

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No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’

Social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.

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No, He Is Not Bharat Biotech’s VP Taking The First Dose of COVID Vaccine ‘Covaxin’

Several social users posted a picture of a woman thrusting a syringe in man’s vein and claimed that the man in the picture is Bharat Biotech’s Vice President, Dr. VK Srinivas, and the first dose of the vaccine was administered on him.

According to a report in Live Mint, Bharat Biotech, an unlisted Indian vaccine maker, has received regulatory approval to start human clinical trials for its experimental shot. The phase 1 trial of Covaxine will begin next week. The company has planned to enroll 375 people in the first phase of clinical trials.

We found that the same image is viral on Twitter and Facebook with a caption, “Dr. V. K.Srinivas, Vice President, Bharat biotech, taking Corona vaccine clinical trial immediately after taking the first dose. He is the first person in India to take vaccine developed by him and his team in Bharat Biotech. Look at the confidence.”

Fact Check

As we began fact-checking the claim, we looked for some media reports backing the claim, but we did not find any authentic information to corroborate.

However, during our research, we came across the statement tweeted by Bharat Biotech. In a statement posted on their Twitter handle, Bharat Biotech said that individual images and messages circulated on social media platforms had not disseminated by Bharat biotech. The image is a routine procedural blood draw for testing all production staff.

We now searched, if Dr.VK Srinivas is the Vice President of the Bharat biotech. During our research, we did not find any results for his name. We found that Dr. V Krishna Mohan is the Executive Director, and T Srinivas is the Chief Financial Officer of the management team of the pharmaceutical.

Conclusion

It is evident from our fact check that social media users circulated a false image claiming that the vice president of Bharat Biotech has undergone the first clinical trial of the coronavirus vaccine.

Tools Used

  • Google Search
  • Media Reports
  • Twitter Search

Result: False


If you would like us to fact check a claim, give feedback or lodge a complaint, WhatsApp us at 9999499044. You can also visit the Contact Us page and fill the form

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