Cybercriminals exploit free electricity scheme with malicious links in Bhubaneswar

In the messages, the victims were asked to register themselves using an application and its link was also provided.
Image used for representational purposes only.
Image used for representational purposes only.Express illustrations

BHUBANESWAR: The slew of promises and freebies announced by various political parties during the just-concluded general elections seem to have provided cybercriminals new avenues to swindle money from people.

A spate of incidents has come to the fore where cyber frauds have swindled thousands of rupees from several persons in the capital city by sending malicious links on their mobile phones with fake claims of providing free electricity under a central government scheme.

The links sent to the victims via SMS claimed Prime Minister Narendra Modi had announced the Pradhan Mantri Muft Bijli Yojana under which one crore Indians would get 300 units of free electricity. In the messages, the victims were asked to register themselves using an application and its link was also provided. The online frauds sent malicious messages to the victims from the numbers of their acquaintances whose mobile phones were already hacked by them.

One of the victims S Mishra said, “The miscreants sent me a text message from the number of a known person whose mobile phone and contact list were most likely hacked.” When Mishra clicked on the link, he was asked to make a payment of Rs 1. Within a few minutes of making the payment through the application, Rs 19,998 was deducted from his bank account.

Mishra’s mobile phone was also hacked and the SMS having the malicious link was automatically sent from his number to 30 other people in his contact list. One of the persons in Mishra’s contact list received the message and similarly lost Rs 5,000 after clicking on the link. Both the victims later lodged complaints with the authorities concerned in this regard.

Cyber Crime and Economic Offences police station ACP Anjana Tudu said they are aware of people receiving messages that claim to provide free electricity. “An advisory with dos and don’ts in this regard will be issued soon,” she said.

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