PayTM, GooglePay and UPI Scam How Scammers fool you

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 Hello, friends.

Recently, I've seen friends and family members fall victim to scams

in which they lost thousands of rupees,

getting tricked by the scammers.

Often when we hear about scams,

it feels like only the less educated and uneducated fall victims to such scams.

But to be honest friends, in certain circumstances,

with the right amount of time pressure and psychological pressure,

anybody can get sucked into these scams regardless of the education level of the person.

How are these scams pulled off exactly?

And how can you be safe from these scams?

Let's try to understand in today's post,

the Online Payment scams.

"You feel violated,

anger, there's anger,

for me there's anger."

"This is a new yet old scam on the internet.

"How did my card get blocked?"

"These are organized crime rings."

"The thugs are already in your phone to steal your money."

In this post, I'd like to share my personal experience,

how I fell victim to a scam.

It had the right amount of time pressure and psychological pressure.

But this post is mostly about general online payment scams.

That is carried out through PayTM, Google Pay, or any UPI.

UPI stands for Unified Payment Interface.

This is an app developed by the National Payments Corporation of India.

Using this, money can be transferred easily.

From one bank account to the other.

Instantly.

Using just a phone.

You can think of it as a single-window mobile payment system.

Its advantage is that there is no need to enter any bank details or sensitive information

when you have to transfer the money.

This works 24x7.

And it is supported by all the major banks.

SBI, ICICI, Axis Bank, HDFC Bank,

Punjab National Bank,

all of them support UPI.

It is proof of how successful UPI has been in India.

Transferring money has become much easier due to this.

But the scope of the scams has also increased. 

The online payment scams I'm talking about

often involve a third-party app.

Like Google Pay, PhonePe, PayTM, FreeCharge, Mobikwik.

All of these apps support UPI payments.



To use these apps, you generally need to verify your bank account.

That generates a UPI id on the app.

Using these UPI ids, you can carry out transactions through these apps.

To make the process of transferring money secure,

these apps prompt you to create a 4-digit UPI pin,

and whenever you initiate a transaction you'd be asked to enter this UPI pin,

and the only other thing you need

will be the virtual address of the person you're making the payment to.

There's no need for anything else.

No need for bank account details,

no need for any of your sensitive details.

Often, it becomes easier to do this

through QR codes.

If you have to transfer money to a shopkeeper,

they'll ask you to scan the QR code,

and then once you enter the 4-digit pin,

the money would be transferred.

Using this easy process,

scams are easily executed.

What does a scammer need?

He just needs to get you to scan his QR code,

once you scan the QR code of the scammer

and enter your 4-digit pin,

the money is transferred.

The QR code has information about how much money needs to be transferred. 

The app will ask you once

whether you want to transfer the amount of money to the address.

Once you click on 'Pay',

off goes the money.

Let me use an example to explain.

Suppose, I purchased a new split AC for my room,

and I need to sell my old window AC.

I put it up on an online portal to list it,

put up an ad and, anyone interested in buying it can do so through the ad.

Some days after putting up the ad,

I start getting phone calls from people interested in buying the AC.

They start negotiating. 

And then I get one such phone call

where the person agrees to buy it at the quoted price.

The person asks for my WhatsApp number

and writes that he would pick up the AC in the evening

but he'll transfer the money now.

I'm elated that I found a buyer at my price.

And that he'll transfer the money to me in advance.

Then he sends his id card on WhatsApp

to show his photo,

how he looks and his full name,

and that it is an id card from the Indian Army because he works there.

And I'm happy to have found a credible person to buy my AC.

Since he works in the Army, he'd be credible.

He says that he is on a 15-minute lunch break

and asks if he can call now and complete the payment process.

I accept as I have some time

and isn't it better to get the payment process done?

And then he calls me.

While calling, there's some general introduction and some chit-chat,

he builds up more trust throughout the conversation.

Then he says that he would make the full payment of the AC in advance

₹10,000.

For this, he would send a QR code on WhatsApp

and that I would have to scan it,

and that once I scan it, I would receive the money from him.

On the QR code he sends, it's written

'Scan this to receive ₹10,000.'

He asks me to scan it on my phone,

and that money would be transferred through PayTM or Google Pay.

I scan the code.

And get the option to enter the UPI pin.

Before entering the pin I think,

"The payment wouldn't go to him from me, right?"

I get this doubt.

But the person is still on the call.

So I ask him if it is initiating a transfer from me.

Since the pin is required only when paying.

He tells me there's nothing to worry about

he says that it is the new system after the latest update.

After entering the PIN, it is written again

"Pay this amount to this person"

it makes me pause,

I think this will transfer the money to him.

He says he is in a hurry and wants me to be quick.

He is on his 15-minute break.

But if I still don't believe him,

to assuage me then,

he says that he would transfer ₹1 to me as proof.

He sends me another QR code

with 'Recieve ₹1' written on it.

I scan that and think if it doesn't work out,

I'll be losing only ₹1.

I scan, enter the UPI pin, Pay the ₹1,

And ₹1 is deducted from my bank,

But at the same time, the scammer transfers ₹1 to me,

And another ₹1.

On my phone, I can see that ₹1 was deducted from my bank,

I got back the ₹1 and another ₹1.

So I gained ₹1.

I think that the debit and subsequent credit of the ₹1 must be a verification system. 

But overall, I did get ₹1 in the bank

after I scanned this QR code.

I start to believe that this system works just fine.

And so I scan the QR code to receive ₹10,000.

Enter my pin and fall victim to the scam.

I lose ₹10,000.

The situation that I told you about friends,

has actually happened to many people.

The scammer on the other side either ends the call

if he is satisfied with the ₹10,000

or if he thinks he can dupe you further,

in many cases, the scam is run twice, thrice, or even four times.

You'd tell him that you haven't received the ₹10,000 in your account.

Rather ₹10,000 was deducted from your account.

He's still on the call and says that there must've been some mistake.

He tells you to repeat the transaction and that he'd ensure that it works fine.

He says that he sent you a QR code to receive ₹20,000 this time

to return the ₹10,000 that was transferred to him

and to pay the ₹10,000 for the AC.

He tells you to scan it and enter your UPI pin again.

I trust him again

and scan it.

This time, ₹20,000 is debited from my account.

This thing can be repeated any number of times, literally.

It is generally run 2-3 times.

People keep falling for it.

In this situation, friends, even a highly educated person can be duped.

And there are 2 main reasons for it.

First is the time pressure.

The scammer talks to you on the call constantly

and keeps telling you that he is short on time,

he's in a hurry,

and wants to get this payment done asap.

And you're under time pressure as well.

Since you're getting a nice offer on something you're trying to sell.

You want to complete this deal quickly.

The second and more powerful reason is

psychological or social pressure.

The scammer had built up trust with you

made you believe him by showing his fake Army id card.

Seeing it you believed that he is an officer in the Army

and that you shouldn't question him a lot

and he's older than you as well.

So you shouldn't argue much with him.

Because he may know more.

There is social pressure when you're talking to someone

whom you consider being somewhat superior to you.

And if you are convinced by it

that the other person in an Army officer,

an elder,

perhaps you wouldn't want to argue much with him.

Even though you have the basic knowledge

of how the payment systems work.

You start doubting yourself

because the other person is speaking confidently,

with so much credibility.

Or you ignore your knowledge because of the time pressure.

Many people residing in urban areas,

even people with a  blue tick on Twitter,

said that they fell victim to these scams.

In fact, a similar case happened to Delhi Chief Minister Arvid Kejriwal's daughter.

It was reported that she was trying to sell a second-hand sofa on the online platform Olx.

The scammer pretended to be interested in similarly buying the sofa,

said that he wants to buy the sofa and is making the payment

sent a QR code.

She scanned this QR code,

and instead of the money being credited,

it was debited from the bank.

This scam had also taken place in 2 stages apparently.

₹20,000 was transferred first

and then ₹14,000.

She lost ₹34,000 in total.

These scams are often referred to as Social Engineering Scams.

Because they try to psychologically manipulate the people.

To get them to enter the UPI pin somehow

so that the money is transferred.

Or to get confidential information from people somehow.

To trick people.

Friends, scams can be executed through almost every online platform.

I'll tell you about my personal experience.

A similar scam happened to me.

It did not involve any online payment.

This scam happened to me physically. 

A man tried to psychologically manipulate me to pay him

and I fell victim to this scam.

This scam happened to me 6-7 years ago.

I was a student and new in Germany.

I was living in a student apartment.

The building had many other students.

The students stay in their individual rooms.

One morning, around 10 or 11,

I was in my room,

and a man came knocking.

When I opened the door, there was a young-looking person.

He said that he moved into a room

a couple of rooms from mine.

And he is shifting his things into the room.

Honestly, this was a common thing.

In a student apartment, students are constantly leaving and coming in,

so I didn't keep track of who's new and who's not on the floor.

This keeps happening.

I asked him which room he was moving into.

He pointed out a room a couple of doors away.

I didn't know who was living in the room at the time.

He said that he was moving into that room.

He said that he need help from me urgently.

He took me to a window beside the door,

he pointed to a car below saying that it was his,

and that his car ran out of petrol.

As he was moving his things,

there was only so much that he could drive to the nearest petrol pump.

He asked me for €50

so that he could get petrol for his car.

Because he forgot his wallet in his old apartment.

He said that he wasn't carrying money then

and that he couldn't even drive to his old apartment,

because there wasn't enough petrol to drive back.

He said that he had to fill in some petrol urgently.

So that he could go back and get his wallet.

And when he would return with his things,

he would return the €50 in a few hours.

I thought it sounded legit.

What could go wrong?

A new person moved in, looked like a student,

so I should lend €50 to him.

But I felt that it wouldn't be right to give €50 to a stranger.

€50 is ₹4,000 approximately.

So I asked him if he would give me his id or phone number that I could keep as proof,

he said that he didn't have an id because he forgot his wallet.

But he could give me his phone number.

So he gave me his phone number,

I wrote it down.

and then I gave him €50.

After that, I haven't seen that man in my life yet.

When I went to the room he was supposedly moving into,

I knocked and found out that no one lived there.

That apartment was empty.

Then I saw the phone number he had given me.

When I tried calling, I found out that the phone number didn't exist.

Later on when I think about it,

I understand how stupid it was

to trust a stranger.

But think about the environment he had created,

he created such circumstances that

caused time pressure,

psychological and social pressure on me,

so that I could get trapped in the scam.

He created a kind of urgency.

The same thing that the online payment scammers do.

So that I don't get enough time to think.

He said that he needed it urgently.

And that he didn't have much time,

he was in a hurry.

Second, he created a social pressure that

he was a student living two rooms down mine,

so I assumed he is someone like me.

That I could trust him.

Since he lived in the same building,

I could trust him.

He gave me his phone number,

so I could trust him.

I could see the car parked outside,

so I could trust him.

And this was the result.

As I told you.

The question arises, how can we be safe from these scams?

The online payment scams,

the QR code scams,

you just need to have a basic knowledge of them.

Remember one thing,

whenever you are transferring money to someone,

you are paying someone out of your bank,

only then will you need to enter your pin.

If you are receiving money from someone,

you wouldn't have to enter any pin.

This is the main issue behind all the UPI scams.

Remember that the scammers would use different ways to convince you,

why there is a need to enter the pin to receive money.

Perhaps they would tell you that money would be deducted first and then refunded,

or that it is a way of doubling the money

or that it is a new refund method.

Don't fall for any of them.

They would fool you after building your trust

by saying that you got ₹1 after scanning the QR code.

These are ways to build up trust.

So that you fall for the scams.

Often they put a watch on the QR code to show that time is short.

Or they would try to emotionally manipulate you.

Or would try to exploit your kindness

like it happened to me.

Or they would try to attack different emotions with different tactics.

Showing fake ids of Army Officers is also a way of emotional manipulation,

they know that most people respect Army officials.

They are seen with pride.

And that's why people won't question them.

Often to increase credibility, people would send fake Aadhar cards, PAN cards, id cards on WhatsApp. 

Seeing it you may feel that it is a legit person.

There are several variations of these scams.

Where scammers psychologically manipulate you.

To give out your credit card details or OTPs over the call.

Always remember one thing,

never share your OTP with any person.

If someone says that they are calling from your bank

and that you need to tell them the OTP that you received.

DON'T tell them.

OTP is not for sharing.

It is for you only.

Similarly, avoid giving out your credit card details as much as possible.

Except on the websites that you obviously need to give your credit card details.

For that, you need to check whether there is a lock symbol on the web address or not.

Whether the URL of the website starts with HTTPS or only HTTP.

It must be HTTPS.

Because the 's' in it means secure.

And check if the website you are giving your credit card details to,

is actually a legit website of the bank or the company

to whom you want to give the details.

And as I said, don't give your UPI pin to anyone.

And remember whenever you are entering your UPI pin,

it always means that you are giving money to someone.

You aren't receiving money from someone.

You are giving money.

Think of it this way.

When you receive a cheque from someone,

do you have to sign the cheque?

No.

You need to sign the cheque when you are paying someone.

The same logic is applicable for UPI as well.

But these are technical things.

These are some technical information that you can use

to avoid these specific types of scams.

But in general, as I told you,

the scam that happened to me,

are psychological scams.

No technical information can help to avoid those.

Or what would you do when there is a new kind of scam,

using similar psychological manipulation.

It isn't easy to avoid such scams.

There are some suggestions.

There is no urgency, don't fall for the time pressure.

If some person is telling you that they are short on time and can't do the transaction then,

don't fall for the time pressure.

Leave the deal.

Normally, if you give yourself some time to think,

you will get that time to introspect.

Whether what you are about to do it right or not.

Whether there is any possibility of a scam.

And whenever you are in a situation of making a payment,

recall this post.

Because often even a little time to think critically is enough.

To be safe from these scams.



What is your opinion about it?

Comment below,

you might have some good advice too.

Or your personal experience when you fell for the scam.

And what are the tips that you would like to give other people?

This comment section would be helpful for other people.

To create awareness.

I hope you found this post informative.

Let's meet in the next post.

Thank you very much!

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