KOCHI: The police have asked the public to handle money transactions using Quick Response (QR) codes on the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) platform with care as cyber fraudsters are on the prowl to siphon off funds from their bank accounts. Kochi City police have found several cases in which cybercriminals swindled money from people who used UPI for their bank transactions in different parts of the state and the country.
A few weeks back, an alert in this regard was given by Kochi City police on their Facebook page. “Cyber fraudsters are adopting new methods to cheat people and gain money. For this mode of cheating, they mostly target traders and real estate brokers. First, they make contacts with traders and make enquiries about the products.
After taking the targeted victim into confidence, they seek the mobile number to transfer money for the product through UPI. Later, they claim that the transfer could not take place and they would send a QR code to the victim’s mobile number and ask the person to scan the QR code. Once the QR code is scanned, the money gets deducted from the victim’s account,” an official with the Cyber police station in Kochi said.
In the Facebook alert, the Kochi City police also gave the testimony of a Kakkanad native who was targeted by the gang. The Kakkanad native is into the real estate business. Following an enquiry, he contacted a person identified as Randeep who introduced himself as an officer working with the Indian Army. He told the realtor that he was looking for an apartment after being transferred to Kochi. He agreed to pay the advance amount for the apartment through UPI.
“The victim gave the mobile number and bank account details for making an online money transfer or UPI transaction. Later, Randeep called and told the Kakkanad native that he had sent a QR code that should be scanned and details from it should be shared to complete the transaction. However, due to internet connectivity issues, the QR code could not be scanned. Later, the realtor suspected that it could be a cheating attempt and reported it to the police,” the officer said.
Police suspect the involvement of cyber criminal gangs based in North India behind it. “Like in most cyber cheating cases in which money is fraudulently withdrawn, we suspect gangs based in New Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, Haryana, Bihar and Jharkhand behind it. Such attempts can be curtailed only if people handle transactions, carefully. People using UPI should understand that no password or QR code scanning is required to receive money. These procedures are required only for transferring the money by oneself,” the official said. Earlier, fraudulent money transactions were made after asking for credit/debit card numbers posing as bank officials .