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Online frauds and how to protect yourself against them

Cops, bank officials and tech experts list what to do and what not to do

Monalisa Chaudhuri | Published 01.05.23, 06:36 AM
Representational file image

Representational file image

Sourced by the Telegraph

The nature of online frauds is changing every day. The scamsters are getting smarter and playing on new areas of uncertainty or anxiety among people.

The Telegraph spoke to police officers, bank officials and tech experts to identify the most reported modus operandi used these days to cheat people online.


A ready-reckoner of where there could be a trap lurking and the Dos and Don’ts.


Fraudsters send emails from IDs that resemble email IDs of banks or reputable companies.

Another way of cheating is “search engine optimisation” that results in Internet users clicking fraudulent websites and placing websites on top of a search list, said an officer of the cyber crime cell in city police.


  • Share bank details, your mother’s maiden name or your date of birth on any website even if it appears to be a bank website. Log into your Net banking account through any URL other than the bank’s.
  • Click on links that have “Ad” written on them even if they appear at the top of the list when you searchfor something on the Internet. “These are either advertisements or fraudulent websites,” said an officer.


Vishing refers to frauds perpetrated by making calls. The caller poses as a bank official and says the debit card of the person on the other end is about to be blocked or the KYC documents attached to an e-wallet need to be to updated to prevent suspension of service. “The pandemic has forced the majority of us, including the elderly, to depend on online banking. If someone is told that his or her e-wallet, through which utility bills are paid or grocery is purchased online, will be suspended, it is normal to be nervous and become desperate to do anything to restore the service,” said the officer.


  • Entertain calls from strangers even if they offer to renew an insurance policy or offer you a hefty amount for lending space for the installation of a telecom tower.
  • Share banking details over the phone even if the caller claims to be a bank official.
  • Dial mobile numbers found on the Internet mistaking it for the customer care number of a company you are looking for.


Frauds perpetrated by sending text messages fallunder this category. Police said the most common form of smishing is “electricity bill” fraud, where people receive text messages saying their power supply will be disconnected within a few hours if they do not pay the outstanding bill. The text message also mentions a mobile number where the person is asked to call.


  • Believe text messages that say you have won a lottery.
  • Dial any number that has been shared in a text message (from an unknown number) that claims to be from a service provider.

Social media frauds

“Social media users should be cautious against people they befriend on the virtual platform without verification. People pose as someone else and use other’s photographs to become intimate with their target and then cheat them using various modus operandi,” said a cyber expert.


  • Share personal photographs, intimate video calls or banking details with strangers whom you have met only virtually.
  • Pay when an “online friend” claims to have sent you a gift from abroad that needs to be released from the customs department by paying a “processing fee”.
  • Lend money to any stranger whom you have met only virtually.


This happens mostly through online chat messengers where people start video chats with strangers or with online friends they have not met in-person. “Sextortion is a form of racket where fraudsters first lure their targets into intimate conservation through video chats and then blackmail them with the same videos,” said a police officer.

The officer said receiving video calls from unknown numbers may at times land one in trouble if the screenshot of the video chat is superimposed with nude photographs and later used for blackmailing.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do not receive video calls from unknown numbers.
  • Do cover your laptop or mobile phone’s front camera even if you want to chat with an online friend

Online trading frauds

People could be cheated while selling or purchasing second-hand items through online trading portals, police said.

“Fraudsters often use this trick. A seller who is supposed to receive money is sent a QR code to make a token payment saying money would be transferred to the same account from where he is sending the money. Once the person scans the QRcode, the fraudsters gain remote access to the seller’s phone and can make online transactions,” said a police officer in a divisional cyber cell.

In many such complaints, it is found that the accused persons impersonate defence personnel to gain the confidence of their target.


  • Pay without physically verifying the object.
  • Hand the object to the buyer without verifying the authenticity of the currency notes or before the money is transferred into your account.

Sim swapping

“This is done by cloning the SIM card of the victim and then blocking the original card so that he or she is unable to get any alert when money is fraudulently transferred out of his or her bank account without his or her knowledge,” said a senior bank official.

Dos and Don’ts

  • Do not submit a photocopy of your Aadhaar card or any photo identity card without signing it and writing the date and purpose of sharing on the document.
  • If your SIM is blocked for reasons not known to you, immediately contact the telecom service provider with your identity details.
Last updated on 01.05.23, 06:36 AM

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