Cyber criminals spewing links on WhatsApp to dupe users

Cyber criminals spewing links on WhatsApp to dupe users

Clicking on unknown links shared over WhatsApp may leak personal information from your phone and make you susceptible to cyber fraud, Ranchi police warned on Monday.

They issued a circular asking people to be careful about which URL they follow on the smartphone messaging app as cyber frauds were now sharing links and unfinished texts on WhatsApp to extract personal information from phones.

“Such cases have been reported in other cities. We request the residents of Ranchi to be careful,” said Ranchi senior superintendent of police, Anish Gupta.

Links to lucrative discount offers and online deals are often difficult to resist, he said, adding that these were also used by cyber frauds to extract information from phones.

“People usually keep their bank details in their email or contacts. Some also keep pictures of their bank passbooks and other documents in their phone’s gallery. Cyber frauds may get access to all the personal information saved in your phone through these links shared on WhatsApp,” a tweet from Ranchi police’s official Twitter handle said on Monday.

Earlier, a majority of cyber frauds relied on phishing for duping people.

However, with growing awareness about phishing, they have started trying new techniques to trick smartphone users, police said.

Phishing is the procedure in which cyber frauds disguise as trustworthy entities from banks over phone calls and ask for personal details.

The government and banks have been running full-fledged awareness campaigns against this practice lately, which may have led to the adoption of new techniques by cyber frauds.

Cyber experts fear that clicking on such links can cause far more damage than the monetary loss – it can allow frauds to take full control of your phone and use it as a device for unethical activities.

“Once your phone is infected, the cyber frauds can shoot videos from your phone, directly use your e-wallets and net banking accounts, and also use your device for other illegal activities which can land you in a legal soup,” said Vineet Kumar, president, Cyber Peace Foundation, an international NGO working against unethical hacking and cyber crimes.

A few cases of cyber fraud through links shared over WhatsApp were recently reported in Bangalore, police said.

However, they did not disclose details about the cases.

Jharkhand’s Jamtara district is infamous for being home to several gangs involved in duping people through phishing.

About 200 kilometres from Ranchi, this largely underdeveloped district is the haven for many tech-savvy teenagers who are experts in extracting personal information for cyber frauds, police say.

However, Ranchi SSP Gupta on Monday said that whether Jamtara’s cybercriminals were involved in sending such links over WhatsApp was a matter of investigation.

“We will have to investigate if cybercriminals from Jamtara have any involvement in creating or sharing such links,” Gupta said.