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BHOPAL: The Covid pandemic made work-from-home the new normal, but cyber fraudsters are preying on those looking for WFH jobs.

Such scams, called ‘task-frauds’, are spreading like a virus and making it that much more difficult for cybercops to clamp down on these rackets. In the first three months of this year, 73 such cases have been reported to the Bhopal cyber-crime branch.

These criminals lure people on the pretext of work-from-home jobs, investment in share trading/bitcoins, and many other side-hustle opportunities and siphon their hard-earned money from their bank accounts.

Cyber cops maintain that awareness is the key to avoid falling victim to such cyber-crimes. Speaking on the ‘task fraud’ modus operandi, SI Devendra Sahu, posted at Bhopal cyber-crime branch said, “Bhopal cyber-crime branch daily receives around 3-4 cyber-crime complaints related to task fraud cases. In such cases, the online fraudsters send random messages over WhatsApp, Facebook, Telegram or any other social media platforms luring people on the pretext of part-time jobs. The jobs may be any including reviewing a product or a service like a hotel on various social media platforms, like and sharing Instagram posts or Facebook posts of various specific pages, and many other such works. The tasks are easy to do so the victims fall in their net.”

They offer money in exchange for reviews or likes or for sharing such posts. Once the victim falls into their net, they initially offer money in return. Then, they make the victims ‘members’ on fake websites and make specific online wallets for particular clients, Sahu said.

The clients or victims can see their funds increasing in their online wallets. The moment the victims try to withdraw the money into their accounts, the fraudsters start siphoning money from them. They ask the victims to transfer money to withdraw money from their wallets on the websites citing technical errors. Once the victim transfers money or share his personal financial details on any frau portal he or she gets stuck into the clutches of the fraudsters.

SI Sunil Raghuvanshi, posted with cybercrime branch Bhopal, said, “The most common modus operandi involves rewarding victims per task to gain their trust and finally luring them to invest a certain sum in the fake websites to ensure they keep earning more. The victim is initially assigned simple tasks, such as liking YouTube videos, writing reviews, or sharing posts for a small commission.”

Next, the fraudsters encourage the victim to do bigger tasks and invest to earn higher returns. Once the victim falls into their net, the fraudsters siphon money from them on the pretext of transferring the victim’s own money (earned commission) shown in fake online wallets.

“Most such fraud rackets are being operated by cyber criminals based in India. Many cases involving smaller amounts are not reported to police. The fraudsters post advertisements on social media platforms to lure their victims,” the SI said.

A senior cyber cop said that these online fraudsters operate in organised rackets. They make the money trail so complex that it becomes impossible for police to trace it completely. Police simply catch the providers of bank accounts through which the money is transferred which in most cases are taken on commission basis. The real fraudsters are rarely caught and the money is siphoned out of the country.

Additional DCP (crime branch) Shailendra Singh Chouhan said that people are lured into ‘task frauds’ through social media platforms by online fraudsters. These fraudsters make channels on Telegram by concealing their identity. “People should understand that no company offering a job demands money. People fall into these traps due to greed. People should not blindly trust advertisements. Verify them properly,” he advised.

  • Published On Mar 31, 2024 at 10:35 AM IST

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