Mumbai: A surge in ‘online task’ scams has left people grappling with significant financial losses. The fraudsters lure victims into participating in simple online tasks with the promise of earning a huge amount of money.
The scammers initially pay the victim a small amount to gain their trust. Then, the victim is asked to pay for prepaid tasks with the promise of higher returns, and once the victim transfers a big amount to them they stop communicating with the victim, then only the victim realises that he/she has fallen prey to fraudsters.
IP connections traced outside India
In these cases, new connections have come to light, revealing that the IP addresses (Internet Protocol address, a unique numerical identifier for every user or network that connects to the internet) of the online task links lead to foreign locations. Recently, three cases were registered at Oshiwara police station, and in all cases, the IP connections traced outside India, specifically to Dubai, Japan, and Malaysia.
A 23-year-old actor from Mumbai fell victim to a scam orchestrated by fraudsters and lost ₹1.45 lakh. In this case, the IP address traced to Dubai. In a second similar case, a 35-year-old doctor lost ₹1.20 lakh, with the IP address tracing back to Malaysia. In the third case, Ismail Shaikh (30), a businessman, lost ₹6.75 lakh, with the IP address showing a connection to Japan. Oshiwara police arrested an individual involved in duping several people of a total of ₹1.36 crore. The suspect, Riyaz Ahmad, 22, originally from Assam, is allegedly linked to an international racket.
In some cases, scammers initially contact victims under different pretenses, such as offering Amazon gift vouchers or part-time jobs. Once trust is established, they request an online task and provide a link, leading the victim to a Telegram channel. These IP addresses indicate international connections, making it more challenging to identify the primary culprits.
Cyber Expert Mayur Kulkarni raised some crucial points. He stated, “There are masked IP addresses, meaning the police can only trace one IP address, but there could be many behind it. For instance, a scammer based in one country may use IP addresses from various other countries. This complexity makes it challenging to identify scammers."
Additionally, he highlighted another point, saying, "Earlier this year, the Reserve Bank of India opened up UPI (Unified Payments Interface) transactions to 13 more countries for use in India. Currently, Bhutan, Oman, UAE, UK, Malaysia, Singapore, France, Nepal, Thailand, Japan, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, South Korea, Taiwan, and Hong Kong accept UPI payments. This enables users to make payments in both national and international currencies directly from their Indian bank accounts. However, it's worth noting that this expansion could also be exploited by scammers operating abroad."