The internet has made our lives super easy. From television sets to groceries, we can get anything in just a couple of clicks. Buying and even selling has become easy. But what happens when a simple exchange of money turns out to be a scam? What do you do when you get robbed online?
Ever since we've started using the internet extensively, fraudsters have creepily lurked on it. From mails that tell you about how you won a jackpot to messages asking for help, fraudsters have it all covered. Most of us understand this now and happen to be more careful. Which is why they've found new ways to scam us.
Velpuri Pavithra wanted to sell a stroller online and even got a response from a buyer. However, the buyer made a transfer to her that seemed quite fishy.
Read her story in her own words to know how it works:
"It has been two months since I put up an Ad on OLX mentioning that I would like to sell Desh’s stroller. Somehow, I didn’t find a customer who would pay anywhere close to what I had quoted. I had almost forgotten that the Ad was up as there was no activity on the Ad. A couple of days ago, I received message on the website’s chat messenger asking if it was still available. I replied saying it was still available and the person agreed to pay the quoted amount. I didn’t hear from him for a day. He called up this morning.
He introduced himself as Vishal and told me that he likes the pram and wants to buy it. He said that he lives in Mumbai and he wants to buy it for her sister who lives in Pune and it is a surprise. (In my head, I went “How sweet of an uncle to do this to his niece/nephew”).
He offered to make an online transfer to my account and said that his sister would come and collect it tomorrow. On asking for his mail id for sending the details, he asked if I could share my account details on WhatsApp. I did. Within 3 minutes of me sharing the details, I received an SMS from one of these 5 digit numbers (like 59444) saying my account has been credited with 13,500 while the money that had to be transferred was 3,500.
I was not sure what was happening. I pinged this person on WhatsApp to check what had happened. He said it was done by mistake. He portrayed as if it was a transfer that was intended to reach his mom and requested me to transfer 10K. He said it was urgent, he had to send it to his mom who was waiting at a hospital to pay the bill.
When I asked for his account details, he asked if I could transfer through Paytm to his mom’s number. I agreed though I sensed something was fishy. For a moment before I transferred, I wanted to check my account online and not trust the SMS. I found that there was no money transferred. I called my bank’s customer care to check if there is a possibility for such a quick transfer within three minutes. He asked me to check the transfer mode( NEFT or IMPS).
In either of the cases, it would take at least 2 hours for a transfer to happen, is what the personnel informed.
As I kept talking to the customer care, I kept receiving messages from Vishal saying it is urgent and his mom is waiting for the money. I told him that I didn’t receive the money. I called him up to tell that it would take two hours for the transfer to happen, even if he had transferred, check what he was up to, asked him which bank he transferred from, etc. He said ICICI, figured that I was probing and hung up the call.
I called him 3-4 times after that and his number was busy. It took me a while to digest that I was on the verge of getting tricked and the convoluted nature of the trick shook me quite a bit.
Until I sat to key in this post, I kept giving myself that benefit of doubt that he does have a sister and he wants to buy the stroller for her baby and his mom isn’t in trouble. In the hindsight, it dawned on my mind that no bank would allow a transfer until at least half an hour after adding the beneficiary. Had it occurred to me when I received the credit SMS, I wouldn’t have fallen for that mom sentiment for 10 more minutes.
I received a call from him after two hours which I chose to ignore. Sent him a message on WhatsApp saying ‘I didn’t receive any money in my account. Hope you stop tricking people into traps like these. I really wish you had a sister and you wanted to buy it for her son/daughter. Also, I wish your mother doesn’t fall sick and stand in a hospital queue waiting for 10,000 rupees from you’
Here are the numbers that I received calls from and was asked to transfer money to.
Call :+91 9967957477
Paytm: +91 8948413565"
Internet has made things easy for us but it has also made things easy for fraudsters. It is sad how they try to fool people emotionally and dupe them.
However, that is the exact reason we need to be more vigilant. Be careful before you make any transaction online. If you sense something even slightly fishy, do not go through with it. And if you've fallen into a trap, make sure you register a complaint here.