There are a number of scams and frauds that happen every day. Here is one such incident that happened to me recently that involved OLX, Paytm and UPI. I was a bit shaken up after this incident, for had I not been careful and observant, I would have lost Rs.20,000 within a matter of few minutes.
Background to the scam and how the scammer found me:
I wanted to sell our daughter’s baby stroller which we no longer were using. I clicked a few pictures of this, put it up on OLX at a very reasonable selling price. Lots of people were interested, but one guy in particular was very keen.
He called me within a few minutes of my OLX advert getting posted and asked me for the final price. I said I cannot reduce it further. He then said, fine, he will have one of his staff come to my house to pick it up and wanted to pay me in advance.
I asked for the payment to be made at the time of picking up. But he insisted on paying upfront in order to book it and so I can hold it for him and not sell it to someone else.
The bait and switch:
After I agreed to taking an upfront payment, he confirmed if I am using the same number on Paytm and said he will make the payment via Paytm to my wallet. He called again 5 minutes after hanging up, saying that he is using a business account and their account has reached the payment threshold for the month.
My suggestions of other apps or Google Pay was dismissed, he insisted on paying with Paytm. Now, he asked me to raise a payment request via Paytm, saying he will Whatapp me a QR code and I just need to scan it and that will add the money to my wallet.
I was a bit doubtful as this was something unusual and I never heard of adding money using a QR code, but I agreed.
The fraud was on the phone with me saying he will guide me with how to receive the money and asked me to scan the QR code. While I was scanning the code, he was sweet talking and distracting me by talking about other things and asking me questions about my baby.
I was a bit distracted with him talking. On scanning the code I found that it took me to a payment screen that was for a UPI transfer of Rs.19,999. The comment below the payment said “Payment for baby stroller to Abhi from OLX”. Paytm was asking me to enter my pass code to confirm.
Here is the BIG CATCH! This was not a payment from his account to my account though. Scanning the QR code took me to a payment page that will take my money and give it to him. He had created a payment request with the comments “Payment for baby stroller to Abhi from OLX” to fool me. Also, he was sweet talking with me on the call to distract me. So, had I distractedly entered my pass code, money would have gone to his account and I would never have been able to get it back.
Aftermath to the scam
I realized this at once and I told him I am calling the police. After I told him I will go to the police, he hung up. I tried calling back, but the number was switched off. Truecaller showed the number was from UP and the name was just some gibberish.
I realized how lucky I was, for all of this happened within a total of 30 minutes from my OLX listing. While UPI and Paytm are really good for us and the economy, miscreants such as this fraud are trying to fool innocent people off their hard earned money.
Please be careful, learn from my experience and don’t fall for such scams.