Wednesday, April 24, 2024
Wednesday, April 24, 2024

HomeScam WatchGot a Call From Your Dad’s Acquaintance Wanting To Send You Money?...

Got a Call From Your Dad’s Acquaintance Wanting To Send You Money? Watch out! Google Pay Scam Strikes Again In New Avatar

Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Ruby leads editorial, operations and initiatives at Newschecker. In her former avatar at New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s leading national news network, she was a news anchor, supervising producer and senior output editor. Her over a decade-long career encompasses ground-breaking reportage from conflict zones and reporting on terror incidents, election campaigns, and gender issues. Ruby is an Emmy-nominated producer and has handled both local and international assignments, including the coverage of Arab Spring in 2011, the US Presidential elections in 2016, and ground reportage on the Kashmir issue since 2009.

Marketing professional Tamanna Jaisinghani, who had recently returned home after an extended period, found herself engrossed in discussions with her father regarding some maturing investments that required attention. After their conversation, her father stepped out for a walk. During his absence, Tamanna received a call from an unknown number. The voice on the other end – a stranger’s- exuded warmth and familiarity, addressing her repeatedly as ‘beta,’ a term Tamanna had grown accustomed to from her dad’s acquaintances since childhood.

The seemingly harmless call soon became Tamanna’s close encounter with a major scam that has affected numerous Indians.

“He made it feel as if I was helping him, which is why it did not raise any suspicion at first,” Tamanna says. The caller said that he needed to transfer funds to Tamanna’s father, who wasn’t on Gpay. Therefore, he claimed he obtained Tamanna’s contact information to facilitate the transfer through her.

“The caller didn’t try to get many details out of me, but tried to rush me instead… he said that he was transferring ₹25,000 and asked me to confirm the receipt while we were on the call. However, I received a message indicating that Rs 20,000 had been sent to my account,” she narrates. The sender then promised an additional ₹5,000, but to her surprise, the message she received stated that ₹50,000 had been credited.

Also Read: Scam Watch: Fake Calls From Telecom Dept Threaten Users With Mobile Number Disconnections

When she contacted him, he said that he had mistakenly sent ₹50000 instead of ₹5000 and requested her to transfer ₹45000 back to him.

Tamanna noticed that the message was manually typed and not an automated notification typically received when money is deposited into a bank account. Legitimate messages from banks typically include the bank’s name in the sender information and are not sent from personal numbers.

“It happened so quickly. I didn’t suspect anything initially because I was thinking, what could possibly go wrong?  I did not feel the need to be vigilant. However, the moment I saw Rs 50,000, I sensed he would ask me for money. I pointed out that the message I received was manually typed. In response, he urged me to check Google Pay. On Google Pay, I had received a similar message, formatted like a payment receipt. Given my frequent use of Google Pay, I recognised the discrepancy immediately,” Tamanna explains. “I suggested we wait until my father returns, and I would call him from his number to resolve this. And just like that, he disappeared,” she adds.

Despite not suffering a financial loss,  the incident has left Tamanna feeling uneasy. “I felt giddy after the call, it was like I was about to be pushed off a cliff and escaped narrowly. I felt violated in a way, because he was so familiar with me, referred to my dad, I even think he took his name… It was almost creepy,” she says.

The timing of the call raises suspicions for Tamanna. One can’t help but wonder if it was a mere coincidence that Tamanna’s father was not home when the scammer made his move, especially considering their recent discussion about maturing investments. “I had been checking the EPFO website earlier that afternoon, which requires my details to log in. I’m not sure if it’s related, though,” Tamanna adds.

Also Read: Scam Watch: Beyond The Hullaballoo Around The Deepfake Scam

Experts believe that the gamification of financial transactions and the rapid advancement of technology have contributed to the prevalence of such financial scams. Broadly categorised the Google Pay Scam, the modus operandi of these scams remains consistent – send a text message on Google Pay, claim that an excessive amount has been transferred, and pressurise the victim into reciprocating with a monetary transfer. However, the tactics employed to gain the trust of the victim are becoming increasingly sophisticated.

“It was my first ever transaction on my Instagram account, and I received an order for 20 units of embroidered pouches. I shared my Google Pay details with the user who placed the order. Instead of sending Rs 2,000, I received a text message stating that Rs 20,000 had been credited to my account. I had seen many awareness videos about such scams trapping household business pages on Instagram and called them out. However, I was immediately blocked. But the scammer continues to be on Instagram and I have no doubt that they are scamming more people into sending them money,” says Aravind Nair (name changed), the owner of an Instagram account selling embroidered pouches, bags, and bookmarks. He describes how the scammer relentlessly made calls and sent messages to pressure him into returning the money. “They tried to stop me from having any time to think. I am tech-savvy, so I did not lose money. But I cannot say the same for someone who is older, and is just figuring out the way this app works,” he says.

A study conducted by the Future Crime Research Foundation (FCRF), a start-up incubated by IIT-Kanpur found that nearly half (47.25%) of the cybercrimes reported from January 2020 to June 2023 were UPI-related. The report, titled ‘A Deep Dive into Cybercrime Trends Impacting India,’ additionally highlights that UPI fraud stands out as the most widespread form of cyber fraud in the country.

How to safeguard yourself from such scams? 

  1. Keep your UPI ID or PIN a secret. Do not share it with anyone.
  1. Change the UPI PIN regularly
  1. Think- do not be hurried into any action.
  1. If someone says that they have wrongly sent money, make sure that it corroborates with your bank statement, or better still, ask them to report the issue to your UPI apps, such as Google Pay, Paytm, or Phonepe through their customer care. They will have to submit proof of the transfer and request for a refund. One may also raise a complaint with the NPCI (National Payments Corporation of India) and select “Incorrectly transferred to the wrong UPI address” as the issue.
  1. Do not use public Wi-Fi for UPI payments 

Like what you read? Let us know! Drop a mail to checkthis@newschecker.in if you would like us to do a deep dive on any scam that you think needs attention. 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 out the form.

Authors

Pankaj Menon is a fact-checker based out of Delhi who enjoys ‘digital sleuthing’ and calling out misinformation. He has completed his MA in International Relations from Madras University and has worked with organisations like NDTV, Times Now and Deccan Chronicle online in the past.

Ruby leads editorial, operations and initiatives at Newschecker. In her former avatar at New Delhi Television (NDTV), India’s leading national news network, she was a news anchor, supervising producer and senior output editor. Her over a decade-long career encompasses ground-breaking reportage from conflict zones and reporting on terror incidents, election campaigns, and gender issues. Ruby is an Emmy-nominated producer and has handled both local and international assignments, including the coverage of Arab Spring in 2011, the US Presidential elections in 2016, and ground reportage on the Kashmir issue since 2009.

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