Numerous Modus Operandi are used by hackers to scam people. An analysis of these scams, shows that overwhelming majority of them have two elements in common:
In this blog, we shall understand one such method used by fraudsters to con innocent gullible citizens. This Modus Operandi involves creating fake, fictitious account of beautiful women and then sending friend request to their potential target. Here are the details.
The scammers create fake social media accounts and then send fake friend request to specific or random people (spray method). In some cases, criminals do prior reconnaissance / Open Source Intelligence analysis, to target specific set of people similar to “whaling”.
The various case studies exhibits that the fake profile may take various shapes depending on their intention, target’s profile etc. Thus, the fake profile may project itself as poor innocent women to rich influencer, from villager to cosmopolitan, from Indian to foreigner, from uneducated to professional etc.
However, the most common element is use of attractive profile Display Picture, to garner the attention of the potential male targets. Secondly, the fraudster aims to gather the confidence and faith of the target, to make him do something not in his interest.
Therefore, as expected, the scammer hidden behind the fake profile tries to connect with the target, to establish personal bond and rapport. In some cases, fraudster forges even closer relationship with the target including that of lover.
Once, the scammer gathers the desired level of confidence, he/ she then plays the fraud. The frauds can take any of the following shape depending on the situation –
Honey Trap / To be Husband:
In this type of fraud, the girl claims to be poor and seeks financial help from the “to-be-husband”. The scammer majorly target rich men. From asking money for a plane ticket, to gladly accepting whatever “gifts” the man wants to give to the girl, the fraudster slowly drains the person of their money.
The scammer may also demand money under the pretext of paying medical bills of a sick parent, health issue, family trouble, sudden mis-happening, accident of family member or on promises of marriage etc. But as soon as the transactions are made, the impostor disappears and becomes untraceable. For these scam, the scammers scan thousands of profiles on various dating and social media sites and select certain individuals as target.
The fake beautiful women may ask for private intimate photos or videos. Once shared, the same is used for extorting or blackmailing the target.
Foreigner seeking help:
In this type of fraud, the victim receives a pre-planned request from Facebook, Instagram or other social media sites. In majority of cases, the profile claims to be a foreigner girl. The fraudster be-friends the victim, and then they exchange personal/ Whatsapp number.
After taking the victim in confidence and knowing his/ her interests, the fraudster narrates a fake story and tells that he/ she is going to send some expensive gift/ money from abroad. On the very next day, the victim gets a call from a fake custom officer who claims that a parcel has been received from abroad for the victim. The parcel has huge amount of foreign currency which is illegal under the various Indian acts. For receiving the parcel, he need to submit the dues.
In greed, the victim agrees to pay the penalty/ fees amount. Once the victim pays the amount, he gets another call, where the caller now introduces himself as RBI employee and tells that since the parcel contains foreign currency which needs to be converted into Indian rupees, the victim should pay FOREX conversion fee as well.
Once the victim pays the conversion fees, he/she gets another call from fake Income tax officer, who narrates the same story and asks to pay the tax on the Indian currency. As long as money is paid, some officer be it Police Officer, GST Officer keeps on calling the victim. In this way the fraudster keeps on fooling the victim and collects as much money as possible. Once the victim pays lacks of Rupees and becomes reluctant to pay more, the internet lover disappears into thin air.
How to Protect Yourself:
Protecting from these kinds of frauds is simple and easy. Consider following the below mentioned steps: