Our App is live! Download Now

Types of Fake Investment ads and Methods to Identify Them

Mar 4, 2022
types of fake investment ads and frauds
  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • linkedn icon

No matter which social media platform you open on your mobile today, you will see investment ads running all across the internet, somewhat driving you to invest. The extent of investment ads is so deep that it is now an indispensable part of our digital lives. While some exude authenticity and smart financial moves for a person, others come with an investment trap, pretty hard to identify. And just like every financial independent person finding ways for economic security in their life, falls prey to the shady ads offering high returns. The fake investment ads feed on not just the vulnerable people, but high-profile intellectuals too, with their cutting-edge masquerading talent.

When fake endorsements of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle can circumvent the internet to promote Bitcoin-related investments, we can only ideate the penetration of this scam in our daily lives. This nexus of scam advertisements has risen from merely 8,000 in 2016 to 34,000 in 2021, according to the FCA(Financial Conduct Authority). While it can be partially blamed on the rampant internet usage, there is a lot of contribution of the get-rich-quick attitude for the surge in scam investment ads over search engines and social media.

We all have someone in the family who has been a victim of such fake investment ads but seldom do we take our learnings from such incidents to become more vigilant on a platform as sensitive as the internet. Therefore, to ease your discomfort towards fake investment ads hiding behind the claims of huge return of investment, whilst stealing your hard-earned money, we have curated a complete guide to understanding the type of fake investment ads and how you can anticipate their truth.

Let’s dig in then.

 

Types of Fake Investment Ads

1. Advance fee scheme - This scam investment ad persuades the person to pay money upfront, never to hear from them again. Scammers in this case usually target those people who have lost their money before in some scheme and lure them with the offer to recover their financial loss. This, however, comes with the catch of paying a refundable fee, in the form of a deposit which when paid to the scammer is lost forever.

2. Boiler room scam - The famous Hera Pheri scam, where fraudsters create a makeshift office to convince people of their existence and persuade them to invest in their schemes has only turned more sophisticated. Boiler room scam has turned to the digital world now, and both physical and digital offices run away with your money by the time you realize it was fake.

3. Forex scam - The largest and the most liquid financial foreign exchange in the world has also been the scapegoat on many occasions for fake investment ads. Trading in foreign currency is always risky and many fake forex ads promote easy access to the exchange market through software or some courses. This highly sophisticated scam may turn out to be an unregulated act where your finances will not be invested as promised and you will end up transferring your hard-earned money to an offshore account, only to find it gone forever.

4. Offshore investing scam - For all those trying to avoid or reduce your taxes on your income, scammers are finding vulnerable gaps in your vigilance through offshore investing scams. These fake investment ads promise high ROI and profits if you send your money to an offshore account. Also known as tax-avoidance schemes, they are highly risky and might leave you to pay even more money in penalties or taxes, not to mention the high chances of you losing all or some of your money.

5. Pension scam - Targeting the most vulnerable of the lost, the retired people who have saved their life savings in FD or Locked-in retirement account (not eligible to be withdrawn until 55 or older). Such fake investment ads impersonate as a special Registered Retirement Saving Plan (RRSP), and promote lock-in your funds with high return, or get you 60-70 % of your money from the locked-in retirement funds. While the investment tends to be worthless, it causes a retired person to lose their life savings as well.

6. Pyramid scheme - The fake investment ads running across digital and physical platforms promoting pyramid schemes have engulfed the entire world and challenged even the most financially equipped nations. Pyramid schemes recruit people with the promise of enhanced finances and money multiplied on every addition of a person. However, for every person to join the chain, they have to pay a certain amount. While people do make some money and profit in their initial days of investment, it soon boils down to a big scam that gulps the entire families of their finances and life savings.

 

Signs that reflect an investment ad is a scam:

  • Claims of low risk in investment and high returns
  • Trying to convince you that it is based on insider information and hence less risky
  • Insisting on investing right away
  • Business or individual seller with no registration to sell investments.

 

How can you protect yourself from being deceived by an investment scam?

  • Verify Business - Be sure to confirm authenticity by checking the background of the business or individual selling you an investment. A person or business needs to be a registered and licenced seller to be able to offer investment schemes, as well as a disciplinary history in the domain. 
  • Quick Rich Schemes are Scam - The quick and easy rich scheme is always a scam and no matter how lucrative they sound; you need to stop yourself from being lured into such scams.
  • Don’t Trust Unknown Sources - Steer clear from fishy promotional ads, emails, phone calls, or even in-person meetings that can potentially cheat you of your money.
  • Don’t Rush to Invest - The urgency factor in investment is one of the prime signs that the ad is a scam. All the talk of; only for your scheme or the scheme will expire tomorrow is simply a way to lure you into the trap and steal your money. Always do some research on your end.
  • Do not fall for some rich couple having a luxurious holiday giving testimonials for an investment scheme. Remember if the video of Prince of Sussex can be misused for an investment scam, there is very little you can trust without inquiring about the actual facts.

 

Conclusion

The increasing number of investment frauds is impacting millions of lives where people invest their life savings in the hope of receiving high returns. This hoax has been crippling the entire financial domain and is consistently becoming a challenge to overcome. Senior citizens are more likely to fall prey to such internet frauds but they can avoid this if they take precautions in advance.

However, with some information and staying vigilant on the prospects where you invest, you can easily avoid such scams. The best way is definitely to not fall prey to high return schemes and always double-check the registration of the business or individual who is trying to sell you the investment scheme.

It is the small step towards awareness that can save your finances and lead you to security.

Related Posts
how to prevent phishing attacks
Phishing Attacks: Their Types & How to Prevent Them?
Mar 6, 2021

With over 60,000 phishing websites reported in the March of 2020 alone, phishing has seen an exponential rise in recent years owing to the increase of digitalisation globally with over 22% of all data breaches in 2020 involving phishing attacks. Google Registers Record Two Million Phishing Websites In 2020. With a single spear phishing attack resulting in an average loss of $1.6 million, Phishing is one of the most common and deadly cyber-attacks in the world right now. This has led to immense number of people searching for ways to prevent phishing attacks and safeguard themselves.

Phishing refers to a specialised type of social engineering attack that is aimed towards stealing user data and financial details of the victim. The attack involves the perpetrator masquerading as a trusted entity and will trick the user to open an instant message or an email, which contains a link. This malicious link redirects user to fake website or may lead to the installation of a malware, stealing user’s financial details or freezing the system as a part of an elaborative ransomware attack.

Phishing attacks has also been used to gain access to corporate or government networks by compromising the employees to give the hacker access to the closed network and trick them into distributing malware or stealing valuable corporate data that can sustain heavy financial losses to the company. Before coming to how to prevent phishing attacks let's have a look at the most common types of phishing attacks.

Types of phishing attacks data

Types of phishing attacks

Some of the most common phishing techniques include: -

  1. Email phishing scams: These are fraudulent emails sent to thousands of people at once that mimic actual emails from a spoofed popular organisation to trick people into thinking that it is a message by the company and trust its contents. Email phishing often includes the attacker creating a sense of urgency by placing a timer or deadline to pressure you into complying with the fraudulent instructions given within the email. The main motive behind the email is to deceive you into clicking a fraudulent link in the email that will redirect to a fraudulent website aiming to steal your money or personal details.
    Some examples of such phishing attacks include emails appearing to be from Instagram, Netflix, etc and asking user to login to the account using a link and verify with a code. The link will record the login credentials of the user to their social media or Netflix accounts which could be misused by fraudsters. 
  2. Smishing: This is a type of phishing where the attacker will send text messages in bulk trying to trick people into giving out their information. Usually these fraudulent messages can indicate that you have won a contest or lottery, and provide a link or number that will attempt to source your personal information.
    In a recent smishing attack, SBI users received text messages requesting them to redeem their SBI credit points worth Rs. 9,870. The link in the messages took users to a fake website where they were asked to share sensitive financial information such as SBI credit number, expiry date, CVV and Mpin.
  3. Spear phishing attack: These are targeted attacks aimed at a specific person, enterprise or a specialised group of people that requires the perpetrator to research names and identities of the person or people involved and tailor-make a phishing scam for them. The spear phishing scams are more effective and deadlier than a generalised one as they look more authentic and are often utilised as a first step towards a larger scheme by the attacker to infiltrate a company’s defences. Recent example of spear phishing is phishing scam with TV anchor Nidhi Razdan who was duped into a fake job offer to teach journalism at Harvard University. She had shared some personal information for a ‘work visa’ that could have been used to steal money.
  4. Vishing: Vishing is one of the most common types of phishing attacks. This is a technique utilized by cyber-attackers to steal personal or financial information through the utilization of the telephone network. The scammer can use a spoofed Caller ID to appear as someone calling from a prominent institution like a bank or the Income Text Department and trick you into giving out your personal or financial data on the phone. Wife of Punjab Chief Minister lost Rs. 23 lakh to a vishing attack. The caller, posing as a bank manager, stole her card details and OTP on the pretext of crediting her salary.
  5. Whaling: This refers to a phishing attack targeting the elite class “big fish” individuals like a CEO or an owner of a large corporation. The attackers often spend a considerable amount of time in scaling out the target and analyse their schedules to find the appropriate moment and means to unleash the attack and gain their log-in credentials or steal their financial assets.
  6. Pharming: This form of cyber-attack involves the perpetrator sending users to a fraudulent website that appears to be legitimate and trying to steal personal or bank details through their spoofed webpage. In this form of Phishing, the user doesn’t even have to click a malicious link as the attackers can directly infect the user’s device or the website's DNS server to force users to redirect to their fake site even if the correct URL is typed in by the user.

How to prevent phishing attacks

Some of the ways through which you can prevent yourself from being a victim of a Phishing attack are: -

  1. Always recheck any email or text message that you receive on your device and ensure that it isn’t a spoofed message or link by a cyber-attacker that will redirect to a fraudulent spoofed version of the real website.
    • Check if message contains subtle mistakes that expose its true origin
    • Check if link has a slightly changed spelling of a popular website or company
    • If links are short urls, better to avoid them.
    • Check if the email of the sender has changed spelling of a popular company or government organization.
  2. To prevent phishing attacks make sure to enable Two-factor authentication for all of your emails and websites to ensure that there is an extra layer of security and in the event that your log-in credentials are exposed, the attacker still can't gain access to your account or personal details.
  3. Do not enter login details on a popup window. Companies don’t take user credentials on pop-up screens.
  4. Utilise a secure online fraud protection app like Finlock that can safeguard you against a phishing attack and prevent huge financial loss or identity theft by a cyber-attacker.

Conclusion

With phishing attacks resulting in hundreds of people losing their savings and personal information regularly, use these tips to detect and prevent phishing attacks. Safeguarding yourself from one of the most widely used and dangerous forms of cyber-attack is paramount to secure your online identity.

How to report cybercrime online
How to Report Cybercrimes Online with the National Cyber Crime Portal?
Mar 14, 2021

Undoubtedly, the era that we currently live in has a lot more than we originally know. It is indeed significant to keep track of digital actions and solutions. The Digital Era nowadays is seeing a rapid growth in which everything seems to be a little bit out of control.

Without a speck of conclusion, the implications of the process are huge and will keep on growing every day. This eventually drives more risks associated with online frauds and crimes. With increasing cyber frauds we need to learn how to report cybercrimes online, let’s check how it works.

Therefore, the Government of India has taken the initiative by setting up a digital platform i.e., National Cyber Crime Portal. This portal is used for reporting cyber crime online in India. It was launched on pilot basis on 30th August 2019. This portal focuses on reporting of cyber crimes against women, children and financial frauds. Complaints lodged on the portal are taken care of by the authorized law enforcement agency.

Why is there a need for a National Cyber Crime Portal?

Well, the foremost purpose is to offer flexibility to the victims to report crimes directly online and without the hassle of going to police station to report the crime with cyber cell. To report cyber crime in India, the victim needs to fill a complaint form with all the necessary details to pursue investigation and is acted upon swiftly. The Cyber Crime Portal has two sections:

  1. One for crimes against women and children.
  2. Other, which deals with online and social media frauds.

How to Report Cyber Crime Online in India - National Cyber Crime Portal

There is also a provision on the portal to report the crime anonymously. If you want rapid action from authorities, details that you share on the portal need to be complete and accurate. Additionally, there is a ‘check status’ feature that allows you to track your complaint status.

Step-by-Step process to report cyber crime on the Cyber Crime Portal

Reporting of the crime portal can be done in two ways:

  1. Calling on the helpline number 155260. This number is reachable from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM.
  2. Directly on the official website https://cybercrime.gov.in

Here we are detailing the procedure to file the complaint on the portal. Before we take you to the "how to report cybercrime online" guide, one thing that you solely need to keep in mind is that there are several fake URLs with UI similar to that of official website. Beware of such websites.

  1. Visit the Official Website of the National Cyber Crime Portal

  2. Hover on the ‘menu’ section and you will be able to locate two available options.

    1. Report Women/Child-Related Crime.

    2. Report Other Cyber Crime

Depending on the trait of a crime you are reporting, choose the viable option.

  1. To report a case of online fraud, go to page ‘Report Other Cyber Crime’ and click ‘File a Complaint’ Link.

  2. This will redirect you to the ‘Terms and Conditions’ Page wherein you need to accept the terms by clicking on ‘I Accept’ in order to proceed to the login page.

  3. For login, you will need to specify your username, State, mobile number, etc. You will be prompted for OTP on your phone.

  1. Post-authentication from Captcha, the complaint registration form will fly-in. You will need to enter all the details related to the crime including date, time and location of the incident, details of the incident and supporting evidence. Finally, hit ‘Submit’ and you are done.

  1. You will receive the Complaint ID on your registered mobile number and email. You need to keep this noted for future reference.
  1. Also, download the pdf version of the complaint for your record.

Check the Status of your Cybercrime Complaint

After you have successfully filed a complaint, you need to follow the steps to track the latest status of your complaint.

  1. Login to the official Crime Portal.
  2. Click on ‘Check Status’
  3. You need to enter the Complaint ID. Alternatively, you can also look up from ‘Request Date’
  4. Now track your cyber crime report status easily.

How to Report Cyber Crime Online in India - National Cyber Crime Portal

Summary

The National Cyber Crime Control has in a major way made it easier for reporting cases as they happen. This is a great initiative by MHA and is still continuing to serve many victims in the process. You can use a cyber fraud alert system or online fraud protection app that can protect you against cyber attacks. 

If you still have any queries on how to report cyber crime online in India, feel free to contact us.

UPI payment fraud
UPI Payment Frauds: Types, Prevention & Complaint Registration
May 14, 2021

Unified Payments Interface or UPI has become a very common way to make money transfers and is the new hotshot of the digital payments’ world. Well, amidst all these exists the patent tricks to carry out scams underneath UPI.

Let’s know more about UPI Frauds, types of these frauds and ways to keep yourself safe from such shark moves.

UPI Payment Frauds – The Walkthrough!

In the present time, we all rely on digital transactions. Now that the world is struggling with covid-19, a cashless economy is on the go. Additionally, staying hawk-eyed to the kinds of loopholes is extremely crucial.

The speed and scale of UPI that carries today is beyond imagination. As per National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI) – the government body that introduced UPI system in April 2016, 220 banks in India were actively using the UPI platform in April 2021. And there were over 2.7 billion transactions amounting to more than Rs. 5 lakh crores in March 2021.

“

UPI is the stepping stone of the current economy and speaking of security, it needs to be airtight. UPI transactions have hit high and not too much to our surprise, it is has become one of the most preferred methods to conduct payments. This has brought unwarranted attention of fraudsters too.

We all have seen the trail when it comes to online banking fraud, and it was very recent when HDFC Bank issued a warning for all its users. The alert made a noise, a loud one, mentioning fraudsters stealing money from the bank account of other users via UPI.

The exact number of UPI fraud cases in India is not available. The scale of the problem can be known from the disclosure by risk and fraud management division of Paytm in a national daily that it receives around 1300 payment related complaints daily – that’s half a million complaints annually from Paytm alone.

To understand the ways to protect ourselves from UPI frauds, it is important to be aware of the possible ways in which UPI Frauds are conducted.

Types of UPI Frauds in India

Staying vigilant is extremely crucial and you need to be aware of different kinds of UPI frauds in India that are happening around you. Some of the prominent ones linked to UPI Scamming are mentioned below: -

1. Phishing UPI Scams

This is one of the most common occurring UPI payment frauds in India. Fraudsters do a pretty good job by sending unauthorized links for payments through text messages, emails, etc. You are very likely to be mistaken when these fake bank URLs twin with the original ones.

Now, once these links are clicked, you will end up on a fake website. If you enter your UPI id and PIN to make the payment, these can be misused by fraudsters to steal money from your account using your UPI details.

In some cases, these fraud URLs may also induce malwares/ spyware on your phone to get your financial information.

2. Deceptive UPI handles

Scammers take advantage of the popular UPI handles that are in public domain and people are using to transfer money. They make similar looking UPI ids and circulate them widely on social media. Users may fall into this trap and end up transferring money into these fake UPI accounts.

Recent example of such malpractice is from 2020 Covid-19 induced lockdown in India. During this time, lot of people wanted to donate money to PM Care – a Government of India initiative, but there were many fake UPI ids doing rounds on social media. Several people lost their money. SBI bank also issued advisory on social media to warn public of such fake UPI handles.

“

3. Screen Monitoring Tools

Well, Work from home is the new mandate now. Screen Monitoring Tools such as AnyDesk, TeamViewer are nowadays a compulsory requirement which can easily be connected to your working device through internet.

Fraudsters are exploiting this moment. They call users and deceive them by posing as representatives from banks or other service providers. If users don’t have screen monitoring tools, they are asked to download these apps on their phones on pretext of resolving some issues or customer verification/ KYC. Once installed on your phone, these apps can grant fraudsters full access to your phone. They can read all your passwords, OTP messages and use them to make unauthorized transactions.

4. UPI Payment Requests

UPI users know that to pay using an UPI app, user has to enter UPI PIN and to receive money they are not required to enter any PIN. But fraudsters promising to pay user share 'send money' request in disguise of a 'collect money' request and fool users into entering their UPI PIN which deducts money from their accounts.

This UPI fraud has been common on e-commerce websites such as OLX where people list their products to sell. Fraudsters contact users posing as a buyer and accept to buy the products unconditionally by paying through UPI. Users are deceived into entering UPI PIN to receive money but they end up losing money. Make sure you also read the advisory by OLX to spot a fraud buyer.

How to file UPI Payment Fraud complaint in India?

As soon as you have become a victim of an unauthorized UPI payment fraud, here is what you need to do.

  1. Directly file a complaint with your bank
    • Inform your bank about the fraudulent transaction by calling the customer care. Make sure to note the complaint number.
    • If calling doesn’t work, you can send an email or written letter to your bank branch manager.
  2. Reach out to your UPI payment platform
    • Register a complaint with your payment platforms such as Google Pay, PhonePe, Paytm, etc. by calling their customer care.
  3. Complaint to cyber crime police
    • Call on National Cyber Crime Helpline 155260 within 2 hours of the UPI payment fraud.
    • After more than 2 hours of the fraud, log a complaint on National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal. Enter all the details about the fraud. Investigating agency will look into this matter and try to recover your money. For more information read How to Report Cyber Crime online in India
    • You can also file an FIR directly at the nearest cyber police station.

How to prevent UPI Payment Frauds?

Some of the common ways to protect yourself from UPI Frauds are: -

  • Keep distance from fraudsters – Don’t engage yourself with fraudsters. Banks and service providers will never call you to ask for your sensitive information. It’s a red flag in case you receive a call from the bank asking you for personal details/ OTP/ PIN or getting you to download some app.
  • Remember when to use PIN – Always remember that you need to enter UPI PIN only to send money. To receive money, you don’t have to enter any PIN.
  • Spam warnings on UPI App – Google Pay and PhonePe give spam warnings to users when they detect a suspicious account. Keeping an eye out for such accounts and do not entertain any payment requests or messages from them.
  • Big ‘NO’ to unsecured public Wi-Fi – Using unsecured public Wi-Fi is never a good idea. Hackers look for a chance to steal the necessary details out of your device when you are connected to the Wi-Fi. To know more about this menace, read How Public Wi-Fi is endangering your private life
  • Unauthentic e-mails are not welcome –The most common way to trick users to download Malware and obtain information is done via E-mails. Therefore, it is a good idea to always scan your e-mails for any sort of viruses.
  • Using tools to detect fraudulent attempts – Cybersecurity tools for your phone such as FinLock is a great option for protection against UPI Frauds. FinLock detects ‘collect’ UPI Payment requests that you receive through QR Codes and alerts you so that you don’t fall into the trap of scammers who will tell you that you will receive money from this transaction.

Final Words

UPI-related frauds have become very eminent in the digital world where we have to rely on a fast mode of financial transaction. Beware, be conscious and most importantly, be ‘alert’ because these frauds are silent. They just attack you and keeping yourself safe by following the right guidelines is the only way that secures you and your credibility.

  • facebook icon
  • twitter icon
  • Linkedn icon