In one incident, a 30-year-old professor from the Indian Institute of Science became the target of a QR code scam when he attempted to sell his washing machine on an online platform on August 11. Responding to his listing, a prospective buyer expressed immediate interest and agreed to the offered price without any negotiation. The buyer then instructed the seller to scan a QR code, promising that the payment would be swiftly deposited into his bank account. Unfortunately, the professor lost Rs 63,000 as the scammers swiftly siphoned off the money in multiple transactions.
Similarly, a 30-year-old homemaker faced a similar fate after posting a picture of her veena for sale on the same online marketplace. A caller, who posed as a buyer, collected the victim’s bank account details and sent a link to her mobile phone. Upon clicking the link, the homemaker found herself losing Rs 20,000 in a matter of seconds.
City police have been grappling with an alarming rise in QR code-related cybercrime cases, revealing an unsettling trend. According to police data, out of more than 50,000 cybercrime cases registered in Bengaluru from 2017 to May 31, 2023, a staggering 41% (20,662 cases) were linked to QR code scams, deceptive links, or unauthorized use of debit/credit card information for unauthorized transfers.
An IPS officer confirmed the escalating concern, acknowledging that the increase in QR code-related cybercrime cases has become a prominent topic during the city police’s weekly meetings. This surge comes as a surprise, especially considering that law enforcement had intensified awareness campaigns last year through social media and other channels, urging citizens to stay vigilant against cybercriminal tactics.
While there had been a modest decrease in cybercrime cases, including those involving QR codes, OTPs, and debit/credit cards after the awareness campaigns, the recent spike in incidents has taken both authorities and the public by surprise. With the numbers soaring – 7,000 cases and 950 QR code-related cases reported in the first half of this year – it’s evident that cybercriminals are employing increasingly sophisticated methods to exploit the vulnerabilities of unsuspecting individuals.As city police reevaluate strategies to counter this surge, the cases serve as a stark reminder that despite awareness efforts, staying cautious in the digital landscape remains crucial. It’s a collective effort between law enforcement and the public to outwit the perpetrators and ensure that the virtual world doesn’t become a playground for malicious intent.In conclusion, the rise in QR code-related cybercrimes in Bengaluru has sparked concern, reflecting an alarming trend where scammers exploit online marketplaces to siphon off money from unsuspecting victims. Despite previous awareness campaigns, the recent surge in cases highlights the importance of constant vigilance and education to thwart cybercriminals’ advances.