What methods were used by financial fraudsters during the coronavirus epidemic
We are continuing to explore the ways by which criminals extort money from citizens. The extraordinary events of the spring and summer of 2020, associated with the spread of the coronavirus, the introduction of a self-isolation regime, the financial difficulties that arose among people, were used by scammers for their purposes.
In this content, we will tell you about how criminals stole money from people using:
- payment of material assistance from the state;
- providing credit holidays;
- the introduction of self-isolation rules;
- an increase in online purchases;
- falling income of citizens.
We hope that the disclosure of various methods of deception will allow our readers not to become victims of fraudsters and keep their savings intact.
The promise of payment of material assistance from the state
Due to the shutdown of enterprises, many people have entirely or partially lost their income. Specific categories of citizens began to receive material assistance from the state. Payments were mainly addressed to families with children. For people who have lost their jobs, they introduced an increased unemployment benefit.
Fraudsters in their schemes also began to use the theme of lowering incomes and paying state aid. They posted online advertisements to provide additional benefits to coronavirus victims. Under such notices, there were links to sites on which it was allegedly possible to receive payments from the state. When filling out applications for “assistance,” visitors to these sites entered their bank card details into particular fields (which in fact should have been kept secret). Having received confidential information about bank cards, the fraudsters were able to withdraw money from them.
In some cases, to receive tangible financial assistance, visitors to Internet resources had to pay a small commission (300-350 rupees) for “entering data into the register”, “obtaining an electronic signature key”, etc. After transferring the payment, no benefits from the state, naturally, it didn’t come. There were a lot of people who wanted to receive financial assistance, so the fraudsters managed to earn a lot of money, even on such “small” commissions.
During the pandemic, the state-assisted not only to ordinary citizens but also to entrepreneurs. Taxes for the 2nd quarter of 2020 were written off to the affected business, and the amount of social payments for employed workers was reduced. The scammers decided to “extend” this measure to all citizens to use Wells Fargo routing number. On behalf of state bodies, they offered people to issue, for example, the return of personal income tax, presenting it as a measure of assistance from the state. In the process of registering a “return”, the citizen also had to indicate the details of his card or pay a commission.
How not to fall for such tricks of scammers? Information on the measures of social support should be obtained only from official sources, for example, from the president’s appeals. Submission of applications for material assistance is carried out only on official sites, most often on State services. To receive payment, a person does not need to indicate his card details (especially CVC2 (CVV2) code or password for confirmation of the operation). For the transfer of material assistance, the state does not take a commission from citizens.
Assistance in arranging credit vacations
People whose salaries were down more than 30% from last year’s income were eligible for credit holidays – missing several loan payments. This measure can be used by those borrowers whose loans do not exceed the established limits.
People whose income fell by less than 30%, or those who took out too large loans, were not included in the state program for providing credit holidays. Fraudsters began to promise to get rid of loans for everyone. They suggested, “through their own channels in the banks” to agree on a temporary suspension of payments. Some even promised to write off the loan altogether due to the problematic situation. Naturally, intermediaries did not provide such services to people for free. In fact, such “assistants” were not able to solve the problems of borrowers. But gullible citizens gave them their last money.
Some scammers offer bank clients for a fee to prepare such salary statements that would show a 30 percent decrease in income. Or provide fictitious sick leave with a diagnosis of COVID-19 (some banks give clients who have had coronavirus credit holidays). However, it should be noted that now the state has accumulated a massive database of citizens. It is tough to deceive government agencies and large commercial structures with fake documents. It should be especially noted that if such fraud is disclosed, the borrower may have problems with the law. Therefore, paying fraudsters for fake certificates is unprofitable and dangerous.
In the spring-summer of 2020, due to the uncertain situation in the economy, many banks reduced their lending. Against this background, organizations that provide citizens with “assistance in obtaining loans” have stepped up their activities. For a fee, they promise to “negotiate with their people at the banks” to help approve the loan.
A person interested in such services sometimes pays the last money to intermediaries and does not receive anything in return. To protect yourself from criminals, the issues of restructuring loans and issuing loans must be addressed directly with bank employees.
In the spring of 2020, Indians were faced with such types of fraud that were previously impossible in principle. For example, some people received notifications about the need to pay a fine for violating the self-isolation regime. Scammers tried to lure money from someone, allegedly for funding for a mandatory test for coronavirus (since Rospotrebnadzor employees became aware of his contact with infected people). The cost of such a fictitious analysis could go up to 5,000 rupees.
Cases of fraud were recorded, when the victims were called by “workers of polyclinics.” They reported that these people are at risk, and there are serious reasons to fear for their health. Then the “health workers” recommended expensive medicines to their victims. Medications were brought by a courier, took the money and left. Subsequently, it turned out that the purchased drugs cost several times less and have nothing to do with the treatment of coronavirus.
In some regions of India, in order to leave their apartment during the quarantine period, citizens had to issue special passes. Fraudsters offered to obtain such documents for money. Naturally, they later turned out to be false and invalid.
In order not to fall for the bait of criminals, you need to know: only employees of state bodies can issue administrative fines. A citizen can obtain all information about the accumulated fines on the websites of these organizations.
Mandatory tests for coronavirus in India are done free of charge. A person can undergo paid testing at their own request. Forgery of documents is punishable by law.
Online shopping scam
During the period of self-isolation, people were forced to order the goods they needed on the Internet more often. Scammers also took advantage of this.
Most of the cases of fraud were recorded when trying to buy goods on the Internet that were in short supply during the epidemic (for example, medical masks and antiseptics ). Criminals often advertised on the Internet selling scarce virus protection products, got paid, and disappeared.
Not only ordinary citizens but also large companies became victims of such crimes. Thus, Federal bank security officers managed to block a suspicious transaction in the amount of 28 million rupees. In this deal, a telecommunications corporation intended to buy medical protective equipment from a defunct online store owned by scammers.
The criminals also sent mass mailings on behalf of well-known stores offering to buy goods from them remotely. The links contained in such letters led to sites that outwardly resemble famous prototypes. On clone sites, people paid criminals for non-existent rights or disclosed their payment card details.
For example, during the period of self-isolation, cybersecurity experts recorded the registration of 1,700 domains, which in one way or another featured the name of the popular Internet service Zoom. This service is designed for online conferences and is used for remote work and training. Once on the Zoom twin site, a person could transfer money to scammers for the paid version of this service or send them his card details.
Particularly active were criminals who, on behalf of airlines or hotel rental services, offered to return the money paid to citizens. At their hands were people who, a few months before the pandemic, bought plane tickets and paid for hotels abroad, but could not go on vacation. In the “money back” process, the fraudsters also received their victims’ bank card details.
In order not to suffer from the actions of criminals, you must follow the safety rules when shopping on the Internet. First, you shouldn’t follow links in advertising emails from unknown sources. Such relationships can lead either to phishing duplicate sites or to resources infected with a virus.
When buying a product from a store, you know, you need to make sure that you are not on a clone site. How to determine this? The address of the original site was written without errors (it does not have any additional letters assigned). The connection with this resource is protected by a secure data transfer protocol ( the user can see a “lock” in the address bar ).
If you decide to purchase a product on a resource unfamiliar to you, then do not rush to send money to the seller immediately. First, you need to carefully read the terms of payment and delivery, as well as reviews about this store on the Internet. If there are no comments, then this is an alarming sign.
Easy money scam
During the period of self-isolation, many people lost their sources of income. But they had a lot of free time.
Fraudsters, using the difficulties of Indians, began to advertise profitable ways to make money on the Internet. People were offered schemes when it was possible to “invest in a profitable business,” a certain amount, and in a month withdraw twice as much. After the criminals received money from a gullible citizen, they disappeared.
In this order not to become a victim of fraudsters, you need to remember: there are no easy ways to earn money with a guaranteed income. Conservative investments without the risk of losing money bring people a profit of 6% per annum. Instruments with a yield of 12-15% per annum are already considered risky. They can bring increased benefits to investors in the near future. However, in case of an unfavorable development of events, the purchased assets may decrease in price. The declared profitability of 15% per annum investments will not bring in the near future but in 5-10 years.
If you are offered to invest money and promise at the same time a yield of 30% per annum and higher, then, most likely, scammers contacted you.
To avoid becoming a victim of criminals, you need:
- trust information only from official sources;
- not disclose your bank card details to outsiders;
- comply with safety rules when shopping on the Internet;