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Online Fraud – Are u a victim?

Billions may be even a trillion’s of  websites are being registered every year. Online shopping sales have been on increase ever since. Billions of people join or access Orkut, Facebook or some other social networking sites in a day. The numbers have been increasing every minute. You know what’s increasing too? Online scams. That’s right, Online scams have been increasing ever since the first was was noticed. You might think the users have now started to wisely keep off these scams. But you would be wrong. You might want to rethink, Take a look.

One of the oldest yet powerful scams doing the internet is the Fake Email Scam. Take a look at one of the latest fake emails that one fellow Indian received.

Click to enlarge

HDFC Bank fake email (Click to enlarge)

Looks completely genuine right?? You are wanted to register for some kind of added security. You are notified that by upgrading the account, you will be notified Ur login to the internet enabled banking account every time via sms, ensuring internet safety. Why would you not want to register to something that looks completely genuine. The web URL also looks genuine. It is pointing to the banks website which is a secure website. But hey, that’s a bait to catch the fish.

The person who composed the mail, took the bait. He was taken to a page that looked the same as the net banking page. Like always he logged in using the customer id and password. He then received a Thank you message for registering. The next morning he notices that all his money had been transferred to an unknown account. He realizes that he had been duped. The police and the bank is notified about the scam.  The case is now under investigation. Before anyone else is duped by such a thing, emails are composed and forwarded to maximum number of people.

So how does this scam work?
Even though the e-mail looks like the real deal, complete with authentic logos and working Web links, it’s a clever fake. The Web site where you’re told to enter your account information is also bogus. What happened here was that the user was redirected to a website that had the same feel as that of the HDFC net banking site. User entered his information and received an upgrade done message. A complete fake. In some instances, really smart scammers direct you to the genuine Web site, then pop up a window over the site asking u to enter some personal information. Some times the transfer of money is even automatic, Bots take care of the money transfer as soon as some information is received. Technology is good, but only when used right.

Plenty of such scams have been doing rounds on the internet.. Here are a few examples:

The Auction fraud
People keep auctions on eBay or some similar sites, for products that they do not own. For example, some one might want to sell a pen-drive for a discounted price. U pick it up, pay for it in full, the product that u receive is in no comparison to what they had described. Simple and easy. It is said that a lady made over 15000 US dollars before she was finally nabbed by the police. How to avoid such scams? Never buy anything unless you trust the dealer.

The Nigerian letter scam

You receive an e-mail, usually written in screaming capital letters, that starts out like this:


The letter says the scammers are seeking an accomplice who will transfer the funds into their account for a cut of the total usually around 30 percent. But before the transaction can be finalized, you must pay thousands of dollars in “taxes”,” “bribes,” or other advance fees. What actually happens is that there is no genuine person with the name. All that u do is transfer some money into an unknown account as fees and that is the last u hear from them. Luckily such scams are now being caught by the spam filter. The only way to avoid it, Delete it!

The email forwarding scam

U receive an email that says Microsoft will pay a few dollars for forwarding the email to Ur friends. The email contains some kind of a tracker that will tell Microsoft about the number of emails that u have forwarded. To register Ur elf, all u r  required to do is send some personal information including the bank information so that money could be deposited in Ur account. All u notice the next minute u send the details is that u r ripped off a pretty sum of money. Sometimes these emails arrive as a forward from a friend/ colleague which usually carried the word “It works!” 🙂 It usually only works for the scammers.

Ask questions to yourself, Why would Microsoft promote itself like this when most people around the world know about the product, Even a single doubt in mind, should allow u to ignore the message.

“You have won a gift, lottery ” scam.
This one works because people fall victim to the word ‘Win’ and ‘free’. In this scam u receive an email that says u have won a lottery or some kind of a gift like an i pod, a digital camera etc.. Then a link is given where the users are expected to confirm their identity, pay a small amount as shipment charges to claim the prize. The item never arrives. A few months later, mystery charges start showing up on your bank account. The only thing that gets shipped and handled is your identity.

Off Topic: Small amount of information about the customer sells at a few dollars in the corporate market.  Companies pay a hefty sum of money to know what u like and what u do not like in the name of research, so that they can then spam u with email messages and phone calls about the new products. U don’t lose anything here, but the annoying phone calls never seem to stop.

Asking questions usually helps… Why would a bank not upgrade me directly when they have my telephone number?? Why would they notify people on email?? Why would a corrupt Nigerian choose ‘me’ to help him?? Did i ever participate in a contest that won me an ipod?? Why would Microsoft offer money to forwarding emails??

  • Banks usually do not ask for any information either over the phone or the internet. So if anything related to the bank arrives by email or anybody asks U for the password over the phone, ask questions; if u r not satisfied with the answers, tell them that u would meet them at the bank.
  • Call the customer service and confirm of any such schemes. Make sure the URL carries a regular domain name like ‘hdfcbank.com’ and not ‘ahdfcbank.com’.
  • All websites having a payment gateway should use HTTPS. Look for ‘HTTPS’ preceding the actual URL.
  • Never leave any personal information on the sites u don’t trust.

Internet is loaded with such scams, Make sure u don’t fall a victim to any such scams. Play safe! 😀

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Also Read on the same blog: Another Phishing Email

  1. pujagarwal
    September 22, 2008 at 4:33 pm

    Nice post….infact a very true one!!

    But thankfully me being a little shrewd (as some people call me) and cunning 😛 , so I have yet not fallen into this pothole….otherwise I would be screwed by now! 🙂

    Yes we all should be extra careful regarding such frauds as I know some people ( some very senior to me) who have faced this and lost a good amount of money…… 😦 , which they have not been able to recover yet.


  2. pujagarwal
    September 22, 2008 at 4:35 pm

    …..and yes thanks Kunal for the precautionary measures you have mentioned above , which shall be useful to all of us. 🙂


  3. Kunal
    September 22, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    All of the above is an experience, I have received some dupes, my friend was almost into sending out his private details, including his card information.. Luckily i was there..

    I decided to get this on the blog, because i wanted people to be aware of it.. Atleast with my readers.. I’m a big fan of online shopping, therefore i study all such things as keeping ur internet identity secure..

    There is one other way to keep identity ‘online’ secure, and that is to sign up to third party services like mchek, giftmate instead of the regular pay by credit card options, this gives u added security as most of the control lies with Ur mobile phone, without which nothing can be done. U also sign up on a secure website which stores information in truly crypted format..

    A full featured blog on it will be a good idea.. I’ll post it soon..
    In Pipeline is a blog about the common tricks that people do to rip off ur money.. Only this time.. In person..

    Enjoy reading

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