UP-based group operating multiple fraudulent phishing websites: report

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A Uttar Pradesh-based group operates hundreds of malware that impersonates popular Indian brands to defraud the public, according to a report by CloudSEK, an AI-powered threat intelligence firm. The websites mimic those of major brands, including telecommunications companies, banks, payment wallets, and email services.

By using these websites, the group tricks the victims into sharing their Personally Identifiable Information (PII) and OTP. PII can be sold or used to conduct other scams. OTPs are used to gain access to victims’ accounts so that they can perform fraudulent transactions after locking out the user.

According to CloudSEK, there is a correlation between these registered fraudulent domains and the significant growth in the use of Aadhaar-based authentication. The threat intelligence firm also uncovered various domains identifying cheap printing and laminating services to scam people. He found that these websites were advertising similar services with fake customer support numbers, mostly from the western region of Uttar Pradesh.

These websites use many different methods to lure unsuspecting victims. One method is to spam victims with messages, emails, or social media communications that include website URLs. These often come with the promise of a partnership or financial returns. Attracted by the easy money offer, users click on the link and visit the website. Domain names are also distributed using SEO techniques, Google Ads, YouTube videos, and through social media pages.

How to avoid such scams

Make sure to only enter your Aadhaar and other identifying data on official government websites with the “.gov.in” extension. Be careful when using sites without this extension.

Make sure to ignore emails and messages from unknown third parties especially when they promise some kind of financial reward.

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