Saturday, January 13, 2018

[Cybersecurity Awareness Series] The Limited Time Offer


Varun was excited about the new phone which he had ordered yesterday. He couldn’t believe his luck when he got that message yesterday. Excited, he had immediately forwarded the message to his friends. Varun was imagining as to how would he showcase his new iPhone X with a swag at his college. He was lost in his thoughts when the doorbell rang. He jumped off his chair at the sound. He was pretty sure that it would be the courier boy who would be delivering his new phone. It turned out to be a salesman selling soaps from door to door. Disappointed, Varun came back to his room and decided to check his order status. He was pretty sure that the order date was today.

Varun logged onto his computer and quickly typed in the site’s name “wesellphonesonly.com”. The order status read “Delivery by 3.00pm today”. Varun looked at his watch. It was 3.30pm and there was no sign of the new iPhone X which he had ordered. Well, he decided to play Candy Crush on his old phone just to pass the time. It was 9.30pm at night when the doorbell rang again. His hopes rose but were soon dashed when it turned out to be his father who was back from the office rather than the courier boy.

Varun was now frustrated and decided to check with the customer care of the website and raise a grievance against them for not delivering the order on time. He logged on to the “Contact Us” page and found a textbox where anyone could submit any query or a grievance. He filled in his grievance and popped the message “We will connect with you soon on this”. Varun felt a sense of calmness after doing this. He decided that he would call them tomorrow to check the status of his iPhone X.
He met his friend Aarav the next day at the college. Varun enquired as to whether Aarav had ordered the new iPhone X from the website or not. After all, it was an unbelievable offer which only a fool would have missed. “Did you order it? It said just 200 left when I ordered yesterday !!” said Varun with a tone of urgency in his voice. “Shreya and Ankur had also ordered when I sent them the message yesterday,” he said in a rather confirmatory tone.

Aarav nodded indicating he was yet to order the phone. Varun was surprised. “Didn’t you read the exciting offer which I had sent you. Let me read it once for you”.

Varun took out his old phone, opened “Whatsapp” and started reading the message.

“Limited Time Offer, Just for you. Get the new iPhone X at just 21,999 only. Yes, you read it RIGHT!! Get a discount of 75%. Just log on to “wesellphonesonly.com” and the first 1000 customers get a free Apple watch too.”

“Mind-blowing offer! Isn’t it” said Varun. “You will not be getting that free Apple Watch. I was the 200th customer and that too yesterday.”

Aarav seemed unconvinced and asked “Did you get the iPhone X? It was supposed to be delivered yesterday, Right?”. “It might have been a courier issue. The status was updated to 7pm today.”

“It was a fake message and I told you that yesterday only.” Commented Aarav. In the meantime, Shreya and Ankur joined them. As they walked up to the class, Varun enquired as to whether Shreya and Ankur had got the iPhones which they had ordered. Both replied negative and said that the status of delivery was updated to 8.00 pm today. Varun was confident that the phone would be delivered today.

His class got over by 3.00 pm and he headed back home. As soon as Varun entered his house, he could sense that something was wrong. His father’s car was parked outside which was quite abnormal. Father always returned after 8.00pm every evening. He stepped inside and was shocked to see his mother crying and father extremely sad and holding his head.

Varun ran inside to inquire as to what had happened. His mother explained that Varun’s father received a stream of SMSs around noon indicating multiple transactions were made on his credit card totaling up to 15lakhs, his maximum card limit. He called up the bank after which they blocked the card. However, the bank claimed that the transactions were done yesterday and since there was a maintenance activity going on, the SMSs got delivered in the morning. Varun’s family had suffered a loss of around 15lakhs.

“I’m going to the police to register a complaint.” and asked Varun to accompany him. They both headed towards the police station. As Varun entered the police station near his house, he was shocked to see his friends Shreya and Ankur with their family seated in front of the police officer. Both were complaining that multiple transactions had occurred yesterday night on their credit cards.
The policeman heard them and asked about their recent purchases and usage of credit cards recently. While everyone claimed to have spent at different places, one common place of usage was “wesellphonesonly.com” for everyone. The policeman took the details from everyone and asked them to come the next day.

Varun quickly logged onto the website to check the order status. He wanted his fear to go away that he was duped off the money and the fact this was a fake website duping people. He was excited to see “Order successfully delivered.” He called up his mother to inquire about the order delivery.
He was shocked to hear her mother that no such person came to deliver any order.
The next morning when Varun picked up the newspaper, he got a shock of his life. The headline read:

“Fake Website Dupes People of Lakhs of Rupees, Owners Untraceable.”

Important Points:

a)This was a case of phishing where people are made to click on links so that they can be made to enter their bank details / personal details.
b)Such messages are spam messages which may result in malicious downloads on your system. Commonly such links are distributed through social media channels or messaging applications.
Never click on links which offer you such exciting offers unless you are particularly sure of the source of such offers.

Be Smart, Be Cyber Safe 😇

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