Digital frauds outpace robberies in tech city

e-way to crime

There has been a big spurt in sophisticated scams involving digital technology.

There has been a big spurt in sophisticated scams involving digital technology, with such cases overtaking robberies and muggings over the last two years.

Police are grappling with a flood of complaints as FIRs against digital frauds have crossed 10,000 in Bengaluru alone this year. In comparison, the incidents of robbery, banditry and chain snatching in the entire state stood at 1,595 till September this calendar year, with the police saying it may touch last year’s number of 2,250.

Experts said lack of regulation covering recent advances in digital payments, such as real-time United Payments Interface (UPI), is the main reason. The nature of the crimes indicates that data leaks are exposing an increasing number of online users to criminals.

On Saturday, Anurag Srivatsav (50) was defrauded of Rs 53,000 after he received a QR code from a man who claimed to be interested in purchasing a guitar that Srivatsav’s daughter had posted for sale on Olx.

The “buyer” gave his name as Akash Jain and sent Srivatsav’s daughter a QR code, which he claimed would facilitate the transaction. When the young woman scanned the code, Jain withdrew Rs 5,000 from her bank account. Concerned, Srivatsav called Jain who offered to “correct” the mistake.

“Jain claimed that he would send another QR code to rectify the problem. He withdrew another Rs 48,000 in a series of withdrawals,” Srivatsav told DH.

Olx said that it “takes multiple steps to combat suspicious users on the platform” and stressed that it has a 24-hour helpline managed by persons who help address malicious activities.

“We issue cautionary instructions every time the app is opened to alert users,” it said.

An expert who declined to be identified explained that Olx has been aware of the QR code scam, which the company refers to as the “advance payment scam”. “Because the UPI payment technology is open infrastructure, people don’t understand the difference between QR codes for sending and receiving money.”

One Olx user, Bhavya Srivatsa (27), lost Rs 73,000 while trying to buy a TVS Jupiter scooter as the “seller” hacked her account using her Aadhaar card and PAN card details.

Scamsters exploited the PayTM’s requests for KYC updates, which prompted the CEO of the company, Vijay Shekar Sharma, to tweet that the company does not seek KYC updates via SMS.

“We use multiple channels to inform customers that PayTM KYC does not happen via remote desktops apps, and not to share account details. PayTM Full KYC can only be completed by meeting our agent face to face,” PayTM stated in its response.

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