A 78-year-old man from Kerala’s coastal city of Kozhikode became the latest victim of online fraud after he lost around Rs 4 lakh while trying to cancel his train ticket, apparently on a bogus website of the Indian Railway Catering and Tourism Corporation (IRCTC). MoneyControl reported that M. Mohammad Basheer was defrauded of Rs 4 lakh when he tried to do the transaction on a cloned version of the IRCTC web portal.
Evidently, Basheer failed to notice the difference nor felt the need to recheck the website’s authenticity. While surfing the website, he received a call from someone identifying as a railway official who offered to help him. The fraudster conversed with him in English and Hindi and asked him to download a ‘Rest Desk’ mobile application.
The fraudster was reportedly so persuasive that the elderly didn’t suspect foul play and downloaded the app as suggested. The imposter then instructed the senior to install the app on his smartphone. Basheer also shared his bank account and ATM card details, as suggested. Once the app was downloaded on his mobile phone, it gave the scammer access to the mobile device and all its information. Later, Basheer’s money was siphoned off from his bank account in four different transactions. After the first transaction, he tried to reach out to the bank, but his efforts went in vain.
Shocked by the developments, he rushed to the bank, where he found that Rs 4,05,919 had been withdrawn from his fixed deposits. He later reported the matter to the police. The police said the scammer called him from three different phone numbers. The scammer later blocked his number.
Basheer’s case should serve as a lesson for the elderly people. Given the rising number of online frauds, they should be extra alert and take proactive steps to minimise the risks.
Be Vigilant And Safe
Basheer has been a victim of phishing, an online trick to dupe and steal people’s money.
Do Not Download Apps From Unknown Sources: Although one may find it hard to distinguish a fake website from an original one, it is advisable not to click links or download apps from unknown sources. Always use trusted sources, like Google Play store and Apple App Store, to download apps, as they use stringent checks to reduce potential risks.
Do Not Share Personal Details: Never share your bank details, passwords, or PIN with anyone, no matter how convincing they may sound.
Use Secure Network: Always use a secure network to keep safe from digital fraud. Free public Wi-Fi networks may be risky, so refrain from using them for transactions or other important activities.
IRCTC also warns users to be aware of fake mobile apps posing as legitimate companies for services. In a Twitter post on August 4, 2023, IRCTC alerted users that “a malicious and fake mobile app campaign is in circulation where some fraudsters are sending mass phishing links, insisting users (to) download fake ‘IRCTC Rail Connect’ mobile app to trick citizens”.
The fake app link is circulated through messaging platforms like WhatsApp and Telegram. So always ignore if you see any such link asking you to download an app. Make it a habit, and always use a secure source and network to download mobile apps.