Have you been chatting with a stranger on your instagram or Facebook? Is he or she overly friendly? Did she say she is in love with you? Did she message you to say she’s coming to India to see you?
If your answer is a yes to any of these questions, it is best you stay on guard. There is a perceptible increase in cases such of people being befriended and then made to part with huge sums of money in the garb of ticket cost, customs duty and more.
According to research conducted by a security software firm Symantec, in the year 2016, India witnessed an increase of 156 per cent in social media scams with every sixth scam globally impacting an Indian. India is the most targeted country in Asia and second in the world.
Symantec’s Director Solution Product Management Asia Pacific and Japan (APJ) Tarun Kaura shared “A whopping 94 per cent of these scams were spread through manual sharing, proving India’s burgeoning social media population remains a favoured target of scammers.”
Another report of 2018 suggests that Facebook-related cases of cheating are third on the list with 181 complaints, next only to internet fraud with 183 complaints. Email frauds accounted for 75 cases, and 70 complaints were related to Whatsapp fraud; the rest were miscellaneous.
Banks reported more cyber frauds during the year, losing Rs 109.6 crore in 2,059 cases in 2017-18 as against Rs 42.3 crore with 1,372 cases the previous year.
The reason behind the increase of cyber frauds is largely attributed to the lack of awareness and caution among citizens while using social media. Pune365 spoke to experts and others on the cases and precautions that are advised.
While speaking to a city-based cyber expert Sujay Morale, he says “Prevention is always better than cure. Relations on social media and because of social media never last.
If the message appears to be “too good to be true” then it probably is a scam. The profile of the hacker may be active on all social media sites, but, if he is not among any of your friends, stay away!
Never click on a link shared by your known yet unknown Facebook or Instagram friend. Half the hackers hack you through facebook. If a person is bothering you on social media, block him immediately.
It is advisable to avoid accepting requests or speaking to people you don’t know.
Keeping a common password to all your social media sites is like keeping the same key to all locks in the house. Avoid it completely. Many online users own accounts with the same email over a dozen sites.
There is no rocket science or technology involved in staying safe.
Just avoid sharing personal and sensitive information. If you find that a profile is fake, report it, Sujay added.
There are so many people who message us on social media and sometimes their constant urge to talk to you makes you speak to them, says Aditya Kashyap, Videographer.
There are so good at talking that it is tough to figure out the real and the fake.
Moreover, their profiles also seem very genuine, most often. Initially, the chats are very good, but later they turn dirty. If you don’t realise it then, you land up in a big mess!
Recalling an incident, Aditya shares, “There was this extremely sensuous woman from Australia who was in touch with me for the past 6 months.
We had bonded well and she was planning to come to Bangalore to meet me. And, it is rare that people to do so much to just meet someone. Initially, I thought my friends are playing a prank to me. I insisted that she show me her visa and air tickets but she didn’t respond to any of this.
I kept messaging her and calling her, but, didn’t get any response and just a week later, I read that a man was duped for 40 lakhs in a similar case. I assumed it is the same lady and post that I do not accept or respond to an unknown persons message or friend request.
There should be tighter controls on these social media sites that can prevent unknown people connecting with you or sending you requests.
These frauds are increasing and the reasons are the lack of awareness or possibly loneliness and people wanting companionship which these fraudsters are exploiting, Aditya added.
Reacting to this, a Pune Based Crime Branch officer said “We have been warning people to avoid blindly trusting unknown people who they meet online. Barring a few rare cases, most of these cases are fraudsters or hackers.
You just don’t need that kind of a friendship!
A hacker whose accesses your social media details and finds that the same mail is linked to your bank account can hack your bank too.
Today, many people are blindly trusting matrimonial sites. A lot of them have become a good medium for hackers and fraudsters. They befriend you, then ask for simple marriage and start demanding money. Soon, you find they have flown away with everything you had.
I would advise that irrespective of what age you are at, it is best to stay a little aloof and watchful when you are using social media.