New way of scam to rob people of their money

People have discovered a new way of making the fool out of people so that they can rob them of their money. Many people are getting threats about cutting their electricity connection if they do not follow their instructions.

SMS/WhatsApp Electricity Scam:

From the unknown numbers, many people are receiving SMS’ or WhatsApp text and claim to cut their electricity, telephone, or other connections if they do not follow their instructions.

Saumya Sengupta, a 38-year-old Kolkata-based businessman talked to the Indian Express and told that

“I received the first SMS on September 30 and then a second message on October 2. My mother also received a similar message. We have a very high electricity bill so I thought that maybe it is right.”

She also added that

“So I checked the CESC [Calcutta Electric Supply Corporation] website where I usually pay the bill. But all the dues were paid. That is when I suspected it was a scam.”

The text from unknown numbers said

“Your Electricity Power will disconnect at 9:30 pm as your last month (sic) bill wasn’t updated Call us [mobile number],”

according to Suamya.

Another person named Anthony Khatchaturian, a 41-year-old freelance writer talked to Indianexpress.com that

“I got the message on September 26. I immediately identified it was a scam. I have two houses, one in Kolkata and one in Odisha. I have never gotten a WhatsApp message from either of the distribution companies in the cities. And even when companies use WhatsApp, it will have a logo and it will be from an official account.”

Anthony also added that

“My question is if I was not knowledgeable or tech savvy, or maybe I got scared and fell for the scam, who would I call? Do I call the distribution company, or do I call the police? Also, in India, you cannot get a number without an Aadhaar card. Imagine the confidence they have to publicly scam so many people with a number linked to an Aadhaar card.”

According to Anthony, he received a WhatsApp message saying

“Please Update Your Bill. Dear Consumer Your Electricity Power will be disconnected. Tonight at 8.30 PM from(sic) electricity office. Because your previous (sic) month bill was not updated please immediately contact (sic) with our electricity officer [phone number] thank you.”

Saumya and Anthony were smart enough to outsmart the spammers, but there is a possibility that others may have fallen for this trap.

A Twitter user Digamber Karekar (@drkarekar) mentioned in a tweet that

“One of our family friends was fleeced of Rs 25000 by cyber fraud. His daughter got an SMS stating that their electric meter will be disconnected today for non-payment of dues. The daughter forwarded the call to her father. Father called that number and he was asked to download an APP to make a payment. On downloading he was asked to make a test payment of Rs. 5. On doing the same he found Rs. 25000 debited to his account.”

Anthony and Saumya are residents of Kolkata, and according to Twitter Digamber belongs to Mumbai. This implies that this scam has gone viral and is going on throughout the country.

Sundar Balasubramanian, Managing Director, India, and SAARC region, Check Point Software Technologies talked to IndianExpress.com and said

“Using SMS messages as an attack vector may seem rudimentary, but as with email phishing, it’s still disconcertingly effective. These attempts often imitate trusted brands or personal contacts to entice the victim to click on a link or share personal details in confidence.”

Sundar added that

“This method has proven particularly successful as after one device has been compromised, its entire contact list is up for grabs, creating an endless cycle of possible victims.”

Balasubramanian recommended people be aware while downloading the applications and installing applications from trusted sources like Play Store and Apple Store.

He also warned people about clicking or downloading unknown links sent to them through emails, SMS, or through any other messaging platform.

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