Hyderabad: Times are such that even if one stays protected from the coronavirus, they will also have to watch out for cyber conmen who are out to exploit the uncertainty, chaos and lack of awareness during the Covid-19 pandemic. From fraudsters stealing personal data from vaccination certificates shared innocently on social media, to those making fraud calls in the name of vaccine feedback, fake employment allowance registrations, promises of monetary rewards from a ‘New Coronavirus Vaccine Fund’ and also morphed, fraud messages promising vaccination appointments via Telegram, cyber crooks based in India and abroad are working overtime.
Government entities like the fact checking wing of the Press Information Bureau (@PIBFactCheck on Twitter) and @Cyberdost (the cyber safety and cybersecurity awareness handle of the Ministry of Home Affairs) have been busy over the last few weeks countering a tsunami of misinformation on Covid-19 related issues, government policies and vaccinations.
One scam alert is of people receiving ‘vaccine feedback’ calls from 912250041117, with another WhatsApp forward saying that the caller from this number would ask to press 1 if the receiver was vaccinated, and if he or she does so, the phone would be hacked. Officials have clarified that this is a fraud call, with 1921 being the number used by the Government of India for vaccine feedback.
Another scam has fraudsters asking people to register on fake websites styled ‘Pradhanmantri berozgar bhatta yojna’ or sending links via SMS, mail or other social media platforms and using the pandemic to deceive unsuspecting citizens with fake promises of non-existent employment allowances. One scam has the promise of Rs 50,000 as a ‘coronavirus subsidy’ from the World Health Organization, while another one has a morphed image with a Telegram number, asking people to add the number to book a Covid-19 vaccination appointment.
There are also home delivery frauds, with mobile numbers advertised on social media promising delivery of goods. Once the victim transfers the money online, the fraudsters block the number. The MHA has asked people to place home delivery orders only on reputed/trusted e-commerce platforms.
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