In a recent incident, the Cyber Crime Wing of Tamil Nadu Police has issued a warning to the public about the dangers of fake weblinks sent by fraudsters. This warning comes after a customer fell victim to a fraudulent scheme that impersonated a leading online store.
The incident began when a customer came forward to file a complaint about a fraudulent transaction. The customer had received a referral from a friend regarding an enticing Facebook post advertising a sale on dry fruits. The post claimed to be from the well-known e-commerce company, Big Basket. However, the URL provided in the post was a cleverly disguised fake:
The unsuspecting victim clicked on the link, which directed them to a webpage that strikingly resembled Big Basket's official site. Lured by the irresistible offer, the victim proceeded to enter their credit card details and phone number to complete the purchase. Surprisingly, at this point, the website did not require a one-time password (OTP) for the transaction. However, the victim received a notification on their phone claiming that the payment attempt had failed, prompting them to exit the site, unaware of the impending danger.
Shortly after exiting the fraudulent website, the victim received a phone call from an individual claiming to be a member of Big Basket's team. This person offered to assist the victim in completing the transaction successfully. To further cement the deception, the fraudster sent a file named "bigbasket.apk" through WhatsApp, insisting on its immediate installation. However, the moment the victim installed the app, their phone was flooded with OTP messages and transaction alerts related to their credit card. Alarmed, the victim discovered that all these messages were being forwarded to an unknown number.
The ADGP of the Cyber Crime Wing, has advised the public not to trust any URLs shared in Facebook posts, as they are not authenticated by the platform concerned. He urges consumers to always visit the official website when making online purchases to ensure their security and financial safety.
Stick to reputable, well-established platforms. If you encounter an unfamiliar website, conduct thorough research and validate its authenticity before proceeding with any transactions. Consider checking what discussions or opinions exist about the site on forums or social media.
Review feedback from fellow customers prior to finalizing a purchase. Pay close attention to both the wording and quantity of positive reviews. Even the finest products typically have their fair share of negative feedback.
Exercise caution when confronted with messages aiming to coerce you into hastily sending cryptocurrency without conducting your own investigations. For instance, counterfeit online shopping portals may employ tactics such as: "Take immediate action! Only two items remaining in stock!" or "Discount set to expire in 10 minutes!"
The prevalence of fake e-commerce websites perpetrating scams has emerged as a troubling trend across India. Recent cases include the July 2023 arrest of two individuals by Delhi Police's cyber cell for running a deceptive e-commerce site that swindled victims out of over Rs 60 lakh with enticing discounts on electronics.
In June 2023, Gurugram Police apprehended two culprits operating a counterfeit e-commerce platform that mimicked Apple's official website and duped people of more than Rs 20 lakh. Similarly, in May 2023, the Mumbai Police arrested an individual running a fake e-commerce site offering discounted clothing and accessories, leaving customers empty-handed. These incidents underscore the pressing need for vigilance among online shoppers and awareness of the prevalence of fraudulent websites that exploit trust in the digital era.
In light of the alarming rise in cyber threats and fraudulent schemes targeting unsuspecting online shoppers, it is imperative that we remain vigilant and adopt a cautious approach when engaging in online transactions. The cautionary tale from Tamil Nadu serves as a stark reminder of the dangers posed by fake weblinks and deceptive websites.
As cyber threats continue to evolve, our commitment to awareness and responsible online behavior becomes paramount in ensuring a secure digital landscape for all.