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SIM Swap Scam- Everything You Need To Know

After a recent case of the SIM swap fraud was registered in Pune, we take a deep look at the scam that accesses phone numbers and robs people off their money.

Representative image | Pinterest

In a world where mobile phones are a necessity more than a luxury, scammers have found yet another way to make money off unbeknownst smartphone users. This method of scam first came to light in India in 2015 when smartphone sales were on the rise. An alert for the same issued by HDFC bank brought it to light in January last year. Despite this, a new case of fraud was recently registered in the Kothrud area of Pune, where a 45 year old man was duped off Rs.18,25,500 from his bank account. The case was registered at the Pune cyber crime cell. On May 6th, Rs.1,80,148 was withdrawn from the man’s bank account using an OTP received on the man’s SIM card by unknown scammers. Just 2 days later a personal loan worth Rs.16,45,352 was sanctioned in the name of the victim without his knowledge.

So, what is a SIM swap fraud?

SIM swapping is a type of scam in which the scammers gains access to make transactions and other online fraud using One Time Passwords(OTP), that they receives on a clone SIM card. The process is not very difficult. The fraudster first obtains the victim's bank registered mobile number and account details by methods such as fraud emails.These emails pose as known organizations and lure people into entering sensitive information. Once obtained, the scammer visits a retail outlet of the mobile service provider associated with the victims number. The scammer poses as the owner of the number and requests for a new SIM on the grounds of a damaged or lost SIM card. Then they provide counterfeit ID proof and get the old SIM card blocked. Post verification, the scammer is issued a new SIM card of the same number. The fraudster then gets complete control over online transactions and purchases made from the victims account as he/she receives all OTPs associated with the victims bank account.

The swapping and creation of such fraudulent SIM cards for monetary gain is punishable under Section 419 (impersonation) and Section 420 (cheating) of the Indian Penal Code. Along with the above, Section 66-C and 66-D (impersonation and fraudulent use of electronic signature) may be applicable to certain cases, including the case in Pune.

Here’s how you can stay safe from such frauds:

- Beware of e-mails, SMS or calls that require you to enter sensitive information such as your credit/debit card number, bank account details, etc.

- Request your bank or register online for regular e-mail and SMS alerts for your bank transactions.

-Regularly check your mail for transaction receipts from your bank.

-If you find your mobile number is inactive without your knowledge, immediately contact your mobile operator and inquire regarding the same.

- If you notice any signs of false transactions, immediately have your bank account blocked to avoid another fraudulent transaction.

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