With the explosion of smartphones and multiple modes of payment through apps on the rise, scamsters have found innovative methods to trick gullible consumers. The latest one is faking the popular Quick Response (QR) Codes to extract money fraudulently.
A software engineer in Thiruvanmiyur placed an advertisement to sell his washing machine. He was approached by a person posing as a buyer who offered ₹16,000.
After negotiating for a few minutes, the caller told him that he would send the cash online and asked him to scan a QR code, which he would send through WhatsApp. As soon as the QR code was scanned and the specified procedures followed, a sum of ₹32,000 was withdrawn from his account. Then the caller switched off his mobile phone and was unreachable thereafter.
In last 10 days, at least 20 complaints on QR Code scam were reported to the Cyber Crime Unit of Chennai City Police. A senior police officer of the special unit said, “Of late, we are receiving many complaints from people who lost their money within seconds to unknown criminals. Here fraudsters share the QR code over WhatsApp asking for the code to be scanned to receive money in their account. The victims fall prey to the fraudsters after they scan the code.”
“Fraudsters also ask users to install screen sharing applications such as Teamviewer and Any Desk on the pretext of sending prize money. As soon as the users installed such apps, fraudsters gain access to their bank credentials,” said the police officer.
Sankarraj Subramanian, a cyber expert said, “When the victim tries to access QR code for payment, it takes him to a fake payment gateway page, where victim needs to enter his card details. Once that is done, attacker will have access to victim’s crucial information stored in a mobile phone.”
The apps and codes contain Trojan horses, or malware, which allows the hacker to gain access to financial information that is stored on the phone.
Police also said no case of fraud was reported from shopkeepers who use QR code system for sale or from customers who directly purchase from any outlet using QR code.
Such cases were reported in other countries, where criminals generated QR code stickers through fake IDs and cellphone numbers. Then they went around shops or outlets replacing the original QR codes with their stickers and swindled money without the knowledge of the business owners, police claimed.