Lucknow, India, Aug, 2019 -- Depending solely on the internet search for customer care phone numbers may no longer be advisable, particularly if you are seeking help related to an online financial transaction. Cyber crooks are not just feeding fake numbers onto dubious websites, but are also employing search engine optimisation to ensure you see these numbers first.
The new trick in the constantly evolving world of cyber crime has come to light after several unsuspecting Lucknow residents walked into the trap and lost their hard-earned money. The alarming modus operandi has also prompted experts to issue a set of guidelines to buffer the attack.
Vikram Singh, an army officer, is among the recent victims. On June 2, he had trouble withdrawing money using his debit card. He searched for his bank’s customer care number on the internet and dialled the first one he saw to lodge a complaint.
Subsequently, he received a call but from another number. The caller identified himself as a bank representative and took his card details. Singh received an OTP and shared the same at the caller’s behest. Within minutes, Rs 1 lakh was withdrawn from his account.
Police investigations later revealed that the customer care number was fake in the first place.
Like army officer Singh, Jankipuram resident Jyoti Shukla was conned on April 1. She had booked four movie tickets from a popular website, but later cancelled them owing to change of plan. The amount was not credited into her account and she dialled what she thought was the customer care number.
"I received a call and was told I needed to share my card details for a refund. I was also asked to share the OTP. I obliged and lost Rs 40,000," she said.
Nodal officer of Lucknow Police’s cyber cell Abhay Mishra conceded the new tactic. "The crooks first float dubious websites and fake telephone directories. They artificially generate hits to optimise search results. Keyword search shows these fake numbers on the top," he said.
Mishra advised internet users to key in the URL of the original website instead of using search engines in order to dodge the trap.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, August 13, 2019
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