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‘Click Farm’ Frauds on the Rise: What Exactly It Is?

'Click Farm' Fraud'Click Farm' Fraud
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Lucknow, July 28: ‘Click farm’ frauds are growing by the day in Lucknow where a 45th victim was reported. As per rough estimates, Lucknow residents have lost Rs 15 crore to click farm frauds, wherein people are hired for giving good online ratings to commodities and services.

The latest victim, identified as Harshit Gupta of New Ganeshganj, was hired by fraudsters to give good ratings to some hotels and was promised Rs 10 lakh. Gupta was asked to give a rating to 28 hotel images and details. He was asked to deposit Rs 11,300 for registration.

“However, I got stuck at the rating work after I had completed 13 tasks due to a technical glitch. I contacted the person who had given me the task. I was asked to deposit Rs 84,112 to proceed. But I got stuck again in the 22nd task and 26th task and paid Rs 2. 23 lakhs and Rs 4. 25 lakhs respectively to continue,” he said.

He was promised the money would be refunded. However, when even after several reminders for a refund he got no response, Gupta complained to the cyber police. Gupta also added that he later realised that the technical glitch was deliberate to extract more money from him.

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An officer of Lucknow cyber cell, Saurabh Mishra, who has been tasked with such cases, said that a preliminary probe suggests that the operators of such frauds originate in the Middle East, especially Dubai and they are changing the flow of money to bitcoins in cryptocurrency so that it becomes almost impossible to trace them.

SP of the Uttar Pradesh Police Cyber Cell, Triveni Singh said the scammers contact users (on Telegram and WhatsApp) saying that they are looking for a part-timer who can earn up to Rs 5,000 per day.

“After users accept the offer, they are added to a Telegram channel which is operated by the ‘task manager’, who assigns them the ‘work’. Then victims are asked to hit the ‘Like’ button on some YouTube videos and send a screenshot to the ‘manager’. The accumulated earnings are shown on the ‘job app’. These earnings are only for display and the scammer does not send any money to the user. Instead, the cybercriminals ask users to ‘invest’ some amount to get their accumulated earnings,” said Singh.

“Once the money is transferred, scammers block the users on WhatsApp and Telegram,” he said. Catching click farm fraudsters is difficult for the police because they operate from foreign lands. Recovery of money is nearly impossible because of their modus operandi. In such a situation, prevention is the key to checking the crime.

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