Beware of cons using QR codes for online frauds!

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BY ZAFAR ABBAS
New Delhi, Sep 6 (IANS)
Though multiple modes of payments made through various apps on your mobile phones look hassle-free and easy, frauds are using various techniques and mental games to win your trust and later cheat you out of hard-earned money. The latest addition in the tactics of online cons is QR codes widely used by them to commit online frauds.
Basically, a QR code (Quick Response Code) consists of a number of black squares and dots which represent certain digital information. When your smartphone scans this code, it translates that information into something that can be easily understood. One of the reasons they have become popular is the social distance norm now in vogue.
Customers as well as merchants/shopkeepers can deal with this payment solution without proximity.
So, how do frauds take place using the QR code? The con men reach out to prospective victim and engage them in conversation as buyers in case one puts information on an online sale/purchase site. They pose as genuine buyers and share the QR code to pay an advance or token amount.
They then create a QR code with a higher amount and share it with the intended victim through WhatsApp or email. Mostly, they use WhatsApp for sharing the code. They may also engage the victim in a conversation to confuse him or her.
After sharing the QR code, the con ask their victims to select “Scan QR code” option on the app and select QR code from the photo gallery. After scanning the QR code from the photo gallery, the victim is urged to proceed with the payment.
Once ‘proceed’ option is clicked on, the victim is asked to enter UPI PIN and the moment that is done, money is deducted from the bank account of the victim.
When confronted on WhatsApp, the cons plead innocence and request for a re-scan of the code to remedy the situation. But the moment this is done, another amount is debited from the victim’s account. This is done multiple times, till one realises that he or she has been duped.
Police and bank authorities have been from time to time advising people not to share their debit/credit card numbers, their expiry dates, PIN, OTP etc with anyone.
The police has also urged citizens not to buy any product or do sale/purchase on online platforms unless the genuineness of these deals is verified before payments. They also advise against not scanning QR codes sent by unknown persons. Also, one should remember that QR codes need to be scanned only to make payments and not receive money.
(Zafar Abbas can be contacted at zafar.a@ians.in)

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