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Watch Out for This WhatsApp Scam, and How to Avoid Falling Victim | #phishing | #scams | #hacking | #aihp


Beware of a WhatsApp message from a known person with his or her photograph as the display picture seeking money from a new number. Adar Poonawala’s Serum Institute is not the first to be scammed by fraudsters sending messages seeking money after impersonating a known person. Attempts have been made to trap many senior government officials in this latest scam too.

Multiple government departments have issued advisories over the past couple of months alerting officials about the scam. This is how the scam works — a person’s new WhatsApp profile is created using his or her picture available in the public domain and deceiving to appear as real identity with an attempt to lure money. Those duped many a time fail to check the pseudonymous identity and accept it as of the real person. The fraudster usually starts the message with a friendly greeting, asking for one’s well-being and then seeks transfer of money urgently citing his presence at a meeting with low connectivity.

“If one gets such a message on WhatsApp and even if the profile picture is of someone known to you, always check the phone number in question and check if you recognise it to be of the person you interact with. If it is a different number, be alerted to not interact with it and check with the person who is most probably being impersonated,” a senior official told News18.

Many government departments in their advisories recently have sensitised their officials about the scam, saying such acts tantamount to cybercrime and the aggrieved individual must immediately lodge a complaint on the portal — http://cybercrime.gov.in — and also go through the home ministry’s manual on Cyber Hygiene for better awareness. One such advisory also said employees are encouraged to use multi-level authentication and security features likes two-step verification in WhatsApp and emails. Officials were also asked to study ‘Cyber Dost’ help links on various social media platforms.

Unknown scamsters cheated the Serum Institute of at least Rs 1 crore by sending fraudulent messages in name of its CEO Adar Poonawala earlier this week. SII’s finance department director Satish Deshpande received a message on WhatsApp purportedly from a person claiming to be Adar Poonawalla and seeking the money transfer in installments to certain bank accounts. Misled by the messages from “the CEO”, the company official effected online transfers of around Rs 1.01 crore only to belatedly realise that it was a scam and Adar Poonawalla had never sent such messages or sought any money.

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National Cyber Security

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