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HIRED OR (NOT)? Job Scams and Frauds

October 21, 2021

A person cheated of INR 2.58 Lakh (approximately USD 3.4 Thousand) by promising Job at an E-commerce Giant

By Nihit Nagpal and Manmeet Singh Marwah

INTRODUCTION

Cybercrimes can be generalized as criminal offences involving inter alia, computers, internet, networks, information technology, and virtual reality. With advancement in technology and globalization, such crimes have been increasing at an alarming pace in India. Moreover, the impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic has seen cybercriminals elevating their cyber-attacks to hitherto unknown levels, in order to exploit the fear and uncertainty caused by the unstable economic situation. Recently, an unemployed man who was unable to find a job due to the Covid-19 Pandemic was reportedly cheated of INR 2.58 Lakh (approx. USD 3.4 Thousand) by a cyber fraudster who had lured the man by assuring him part time job at an e-commerce giant.[1]

FACTS OF THE CASE

The victim (reportedly a 34 year old male), had received a text message regarding a job offer at an e-commerce giant, which entailed purchase of certain products from the e-commerce platform by him to increase their sales, and in lieu thereof, he would receive hefty commissions. Upon receipt of the commission, the orders could be cancelled to get refund of the orders too. Thus, the victim contacted the number mentioned in the text message and the fraudster who picked up the call impersonated to be a representative of a private company which had partnered with the e-commerce giant to increase sales of products through it.

The cyber fraudster informed the victim that he had to purchase a product by making payment via an e-wallet account issued to him and thereafter, he will receive a commission for it. To lure the man and gain his trust, the cyber fraudster persuaded the man to put small amounts of INR 200, INR 1,000 and INR 3,000 in the e-wallet account issued to him. The man thereafter received INR 118, INR 468 and INR 1400 as commission for the said amounts. Subsequently, the cyber fraudster persuaded the man to place an order for eight products so that he could earn huge amount of commission on it. The victim, being likely enthralled by the promise of huge returns, deposited a sum of INR 2.58 Lakh (approx. USD 3.4 Thousand) for the products. However, he did not receive any commission for the same and the cyber fraudster refused to pay the commission or give back the money to the man!

In light of such scams and frauds, it is more important than ever to exercise Constant Vigilance and not pay attention to such fraudulent calls or SMSes. Even more importantly perhaps, it is imperative to be aware of the legal remedies available to people regarding such frauds and cybercrimes. Further, one must also be aware of the various types of cybercrimes or frauds that may occur.

LEGAL REMEDIES AGAINST CYBER CRIMES

The Information Technology Act, 2000 and the Indian Penal Code, 1860 criminalizes a number of cybercrimes for protection of the citizens and discouraging cyber fraudsters to commit such offences. The aggrieved person should immediately file a Police Complaint for Registration of the First Information Report (FIR). The aggrieved person can also file a complaint along with proofs with the Cyber Cell of the concerned jurisdiction, inter alia intimating them about the said cybercrime. The complaint can be filed through the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal[2].

VARIOUS TYPES OF CYBERCRIMES

A non-exhaustive list of some of the more prevalent cybercrimes is given below:

  1. Child Pornography/ Child Sexually Abusive Material (CSAM) – It refers to material containing sexual image in any form, of a child who is abused or sexually exploited.
  2. Cyber Bullying – It is a form of harassment or bullying inflicted through the use of electronic or communication devices such as computer, mobile phone, laptop, etc.
  3. Cyber Stalking – It is the use of electronic communication to follow a person, or attempt to contact a person to foster personal interaction repeatedly despite a clear indication to the accused of disinterest by such person.
  4. Cyber Grooming – It occurs when a person builds an online relationship with a young person and tricks or pressures him/ her into doing sexual acts.
  5. Online Job Fraud – It is an attempt to defraud people who are in need of employment by giving them a false hope/ promise of better employment with higher wages.
  6. Online Sextortion – It occurs when someone threatens to distribute private and sensitive material using an electronic medium if he/ she does not provide images of a sexual nature, sexual favors, or money.
  7. Vishing – It is essentially a form of phishing, which involves attempts wherein fraudsters try to seek personal information like Customer ID, Net Banking password, ATM PIN, OTP, Card expiry date, CVV etc. through phone calls.
  8. Sexting – It is an act of sending sexually explicit digital images, videos, text messages, or emails, usually by cell phone.
  9. Smshing – It is a type of fraud that uses mobile phone text messages to lure victims into calling back on a fraudulent phone number, visiting fraudulent websites or downloading malicious content via phone or web.
  10. SIM Swap Scam – It occurs when fraudsters manage to get a new SIM card issued against a registered mobile number fraudulently through the mobile service provider for making financial transactions through victim’s bank account.
  11. Debit/Credit Card Fraud – It involves an unauthorized use of another’s credit or debit card information for the purpose of purchases or withdrawing funds from the accounts.
  12. Impersonation and Identity Theft – It is an act of fraudulently or dishonestly making use of the electronic signature, password or any other unique identification feature of any other person.
  13. Phishing – It is a type of fraud that involves sending emails with malicious intent for stealing personal information such as Customer ID, IPIN, Credit/Debit Card number, Card expiry date, CVV number, etc.
  14. Spamming – This involves unsolicited commercial messages sent via email, SMS, MMS and any other similar electronic messaging media.
  15. Ransomware – It is a type of computer malware that encrypts the files, storage media on communication devices like desktops, Laptops, Mobile phones etc., holding data/information as a hostage for demanding ransom.
  16. Virus, Worms & Trojans – Virus is a program written to enter to your computer and damage/alter your files/data and replicate themselves. Worms are malicious programs that make repetitive copies of themselves on the local drive, network shares, etc. A Trojan is a destructive program that looks as a genuine application.
  17. Data Breach – It is an incident in which information is accessed without authorization.
  18. Denial Of Services/Distributed DOS – It is an attack intended for denying access to computer resources without permission of the owner or any other person who is in-charge of a computer, computer system or computer network.
  19. Website Defacement – It is an attack intended to change visual appearance of a website and/ or make it dysfunctional.
  20. Cyber Squatting – It is an act of registering, trafficking in, or using a domain name with an intent to profit from the goodwill of a trademark belonging to someone else.
  21. Pharming – It is cyber-attack aiming to redirect a website’s traffic to another, bogus website.
  22. Cryptojacking – It is the unauthorized use of computing resources to mine cryptocurrencies.
  23. Online Drug Trafficking – It is a crime of selling, transporting, or illegally importing unlawful controlled substances, such as heroin, cocaine, marijuana, or other illegal drugs using electronic means. This is especially prevalent in the dark web.
  24. Espionage – It is the act or practice of obtaining data and information without the permission and knowledge of the owner.

CONCLUSION

In today’s world where technology has reached great heights, offences such as cybercrimes are not only limited to the computers only but the impact of such cybercriminal activities can be seen on mobile devices as well. Even opening a single link on a mobile device can lead to installation of malware and cybercriminals could easily hack the mobile device to cause great harm to any individual. During the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has been observed that the private information of the users of various apps has also been leaked and sold on dark web. The general public should be aware of the cybercrimes happening around them and should immediately report any such cybercrimes to the authorities so that quick action can be taken against such cyber fraudsters.

[1] https://indianexpress.com/article/cities/mumbai/mumbai-cyber-fraudster-promises-part-time-job-for-amazon-dupes-unemployed-man-of-rs-2-58-lakh-7497859/#:~:text=A%2034%2Dyear%2Dold%20unemployed,hefty%20commission%20after%20each%20sale.

[2] https://cybercrime.gov.in/

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