Property buyers, sellers, prospective tenants or property owners must be cautious when using online property listing portals and safeguard themselves against frauds. There have been many incidents of fraudsters duping people off large sums of money by posing as tenants or buyers. Many property buyers have also become the target of fraudsters who reach out to them, posing as property sellers or brokers.
Frauds that sellers encounter
Fraudsters use various methods to dupe people; the most common is sending a QR code. Cybercriminals trick people into scanning fake QR codes. Once a code is scanned, money gets instantly debited from the victim’s account. Sellers must be aware that QR codes are not meant for receiving money. Thus, scanning these QR codes may lead to quick withdrawal of funds from a seller’s accounts instead of getting credited to the account.
Read this story of online fraud.
Manish from Pune was looking to sell his property and got the property listed on an online portal. A week later, he received a call from an army officer, expressing his urgency to find a home quickly for his family and also offering to pay the entire amount. Manish was asked to scan a QR code to enable this payment. He did as asked, and the next thing he knew, his account was debited with a sizable amount.
Fraudsters share their fake IDs, proof of employment and other such information and may even persuade their victims to remove the listing from the portal or mark it as ‘sold/booked.
Scams buyers must be aware of
Fraudsters often attempt to build trust and convince you to get into transactions faster. Buyers need to be alert when dealing with sellers online. There have been cases where fraudsters have cheated prospective home buyers or tenants by asking them to pay a token amount for booking flats before visiting the property while promising attractive discounts.
What to do if you get scammed?
- Report the fraud: If you have become a victim of a scam, immediately report the fraud at the nearest police station, along with supporting documents. Always keep relevant data handy, including screenshots, call recordings, chat histories, proof of payments, etc.
- Approach the cyber cell for redressal: Call on the cyber fraud toll-free helpline number, 1930, introduced by the Ministry of Home Affairs, Government of India. You can also report the fraud on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal at www.cybercrime.gov.in.
- Notify the bank: If you have made an online transaction and the money has been debited from your account, notify your bank immediately. Get the UPI blocked.
- Safeguard your identity: If you have unknowingly disclosed payment information to fraudsters, take the necessary steps to block access to your accounts.
If you have become a target of a QR Code scam through a listing or a user on Housing.com, report the fraud at email@example.com
Dos and don’ts to prevent online fraud
Spread this message among your friends, family, colleagues, and people you know.