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Beware of New Online Payment App Fraud!

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The various third-party apps available at Google Playstore and other online platforms spell convenience and people seldom think twice before downloading and using them. But are many of these apps as secure and trustworthy as much as cash or other instruments like the cheque? Will you end up losing your hard-earned money to fraudsters, and worse still, be left with no means to recover it?

Well, one of our colleagues had to undergo the mortification of having to undergo such an experience.  Here is his story.

I am sharing an incident of online Payment App fraud due to which I lost a huge amount of money. There are two other people figuring in this incident, my neighbour who requested me to receive the amount on his behalf and the fraudster.

On Saturday, August 17, 2019, I was returning home in New Delhi. It was raining cats and dogs. I got a call from one of my neighbours, Harsh (name changed). He said, ” I have posted an ad regarding selling my AC on OLX. Someone is interested and he wants to pay some money in advance. He will pick up the AC in the morning and pay the remaining amount.”

Harsh said he doesn’t have any online payment option. He requested me to receive the amount on my Phone Pe account. I agreed. Harsh shared my contact number with Niteen Singh, the name displayed on the Phone Pe app. Truecaller displayed the name Ronit Roy.

In the meanwhile, I reached home. In a few seconds, my phone rang. The incoming call was from 9650849372. I picked up the call. After introducing himself, Niteen said “I have sent money on Phone Pe app, click on the bell icon, you will get the notification, click on OK. Make sure to do it asap as the link will expire in a while, it’s better if you do it with the phone call going on.”

I checked that link. There were seven to eight money requests of Rs. 1100, 1000, 1100, 1000, 1100, 1100, 1100, 400, 400.  Actually, it was not a request for receiving, instead, It was a request for sending money to his account! I asked him, “Aren’t you going to pay me? Then why are you sending me the request to send the money into your account?”

Niteen replied, “I am sending money into your account. I can show you by sending Re 1 into your account.” He then sent a fresh request for paying Re 1. I clicked on that request and saw that one rupee was credited in my account.

Developing trust for Niteen through this transaction, I clicked on all the links requested and provided my pin for each transaction. He sent me four other requests and told me to do the same.

But after the initial transactions, it suddenly clicked in my mind to check my account balance. It was a huge blow for me as I had lost money for each and every transaction. I told him that money has been debited from my account.

He, however, told me to continue the process in order to get back the money, otherwise, I will lose the money sent already.

By that time, I realised that Niteen was an online payment app fraudster. He was sending more requests in 1000, 1100 sequence and telling me to do the transaction otherwise my amount will not be recovered. But I declined and disconnected the call.

He called me again asking me to finish all the requested transactions. I said there was no money left in my account. He then adopted another stratagem by asking whether I had any other account or any other family member account.  I replied in the negative and disconnected the call again.

He then tried to hack the other payment apps installed in my phone, asking for OTPs. He even tried to hack my Google account. I am recounting my experience here to caution all those using third party payment applications to beware of fraudsters.

I tried to file a police complaint but found them to be unhelpful. I also tried to lodge a complaint on the customer care support of the application.

This app doesn’t have any number on which you can call and register your complaint. They have an option to submit the suspicious transaction following which they will raise a ticket and send you a predefined template saying that someone will contact you regarding the issue in 48 hours.

I lodged a request for all the fraudulent transactions. They replied with the same template and issued 7-8 tickets. However, I haven’t got any replies from their side even after 48 hours. I commented regarding the fraud on google play store and guess what they did? They provided me with another ticket with reference to those tickets and an apology for the delayed response.

What is even more disgusting is that guy is still active and his number is working. I am urging all such service providers like Phone Pe to find a solution and stop all such fraudsters from cheating and stealing people’s hard-earned money.

The most affected by these scams are senior citizens using these apps who have limited sources of income. They would not be in a position to follow up with such non-responsive platforms that do not provide any direct communication with any customer help executive.

Apps like Phone Pe do not provide any platform / number for a customer to directly report any kind of fraud that has been played upon them with the result being that the victim of the fraud is left without any recourse either from such online payment apps or from our state investigating authorities.

Please remember to be cautious while use banking and third-party online payment apps. Be aware of all the guidelines. Be updated, be safe.

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