A message is viral on WhatsApp, claiming that the Government of India, under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (PMAY) is giving Rs. 25,000 as per the 2020 budget.
“सन् 2020 के नये बजट के अनुसार भारत के हर परिवार के किसी भी एक व्यक्ति को प्रधानमंत्री आवास योजना के तहत 25000 रु दिए जा रहे है, अगर आपके परिवार में से किसी ने भी इस योजना का लाभ नहीं उठाया है तो आप अभी नीचे लिंक पर क्लिक करके फॉर्म भरे और 25000 रु प्राप्त करे।”
Translation: According to the new 2020 budget, one member from every Indian family can receive Rs. 25,000 under the Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana (Prime Minister’s Housing Scheme). If none of your family members have availed this scheme, you can do so by clicking on the link below and filling the form and receive Rs. 25,000.
The link shared in the message, pmyojna.ssctechnical.com, is clearly fake. Official government of India websites end with .gov.in or just .in. There are two websites for the government’s actual Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana Scheme.
The domain http://pmyojna.ssctechnical.com is one year and eight months old, which does not make sense if the scheme was only declared in the fiscal year 2020-2021. The domain searches further established that the website is not an official government webpage, as the registered name is ‘ssctechnical.com’.
When clicked, the link redirects the user to a page with the name of the scheme and a form that asks for the name, mobile number, address and the pin code of the applicant. Scrolling down reveals ‘customer rating’ and an image of PM Modi with his name misspelt as ‘Narendr Nodi’. The page also says (like with the ‘free mask’ scam link) that the offer is valid only till April 30, 2020 and that 1,12,959 have availed the scheme so far. On the top of the page, a message reads “सूबेदार यादव ने आवास योयना के द्वारा 25000 रु प्राप्त किए|” (Subhedar Yadav got Rs. 25,000 under the Awaas Scheme.)
The terms and conditions of the page reveal the fact that the page is designed as a prank.
“इस वेबसाइट का उदेश केवल मजाक ( prank ) करना है आपके दोस्त ने इस वेबसाइट के जरिए आपको वेबकूफ बनाया है यहाँ कोई भी narendr modi awas yojna ऑफर नहीं चल रहा है अगर आप भी अपने दोस्तों को वेबकूफ बना कर मजाक करना चाहते हो तो इसे अपने दोस्तों को शेयर करे और इस वेबसाइट का उदेश किसी भी तरह से आपको मानसिक या साररिक रूप से हानि पहुंचना नहीं है और ना ही आपकी किसी भी जानकारी को लेकर उसका गलत उपयोग करना है और इस वेबसाइट में आपकी किसी भी जानकारी को सेव नहीं किया जा रहा है|”
Translation: This website is designed as a prank, your friends have pranked you with this message. There is no offer for Narendr Modi Awas Yojna here and you can prank your friends too by sharing it. This website does not intend to cause any mental or physical harm to anyone and it does not save or misuse any of your personal information.
When the form is filled and submitted, the next page asks the user to share the message on WhatsApp with at least 5 people. We found that the website accepts null responses i.e, the user need not actually send it.
After clicking on ‘Submit Now’, the user receives a registration number that they’re advised to note down and keep. When the dialogue box is closed, the user is redirected to a page which asks them to download a mobile application to keep track of their application.
If the user decides to download the recommended application, the page redirects the user to ‘VideoBuddy’ and clicking on ‘Download now’ opens multiple marketing pop-ups that do not lead to anything.
Therefore, this link is yet another telemarketing scam link circulated as a prank.
Such kinds of messages are circulated widely and the creator mainly benefits in these ways:
- When the scam asks the applicant to share the link with multiple contacts on WhatsApp. Every applicant shares the messages at least 5 times in this case without a second thought, as they think there is nothing to lose by doing so. This leads to multiple people filling the form, and builds a database of mobile numbers for scammers, who sell personal data to third parties.
- The webpage hosts advertisements, under Google AdSense. The scam link gets money every time the page is visited (and not left in five seconds) and the number of times the advertisements are seen. This allows the host to make money while scamming people.
- Finally, when the page directs the applicant to the last VideoBuddy page and clicks on ‘Download Now’, the multiple pop-ups that open may install malware on the user’s device, putting the user’s device and personal data at risk.
This is yet another WhatsApp scam, as explained in previous articles, such as: