A viral message claiming that the FG (Federal Government) is giving away Rs 5,000 to people as ‘lockdown relief funds’ is being shared across social media.
Claim: “*FG* has finally approved and have started giving out free _Rs.5,000_ Relief Funds to each citizen. Below is how to claim and get yours credit Instantly as I have just did now
*Note*: You can only claim and get credited once and it’s also limited so.”
This link is yet another scam link, designed to collect data by tricking unsuspecting people.
When clicked, this link directs the user through multiple steps, eventually leading the user to a webpage for a product or service that has nothing to do with the message that was sent along with the link.
The same message was found to be widely shared in Nigeria earlier this year as well, claiming that the federal government of Nigeria was also giving away 5,000 nairas to its citizens for a limited time.
When clicked, the link redirects the users to ‘funds.ramaphosafoundations.com’.
We looked up ‘ramaphosa foundations’ and found an organisation called the Cyril Ramaphosa Foundation (https://www.cyrilramaphosafoundation.org), which is “an independent public benefit organisation that aims to improve lives by creating opportunities through education and enterprise development” in South Africa.
The steps that the link takes the user through are as follows –
Regardless of the option selected, the process takes the user to the same next step.
Here too, any amount selected will redirect to the same step, which assumes the user has chosen the Rs 5,000 option.
The selection made is irrelevant to the website, which proceeds to the next screen which deems the user eligible to receive the ‘free lockdown funds.’
The user is then led to a screen that prompts them to share the message specifically to seven WhatsApp groups. If the user scrolls down, the page shows testimonials from people who claim to have received the money instantly. The only interaction the user can have on the lower half of the page is ‘liking’ the comments left by the users.
The page asks the user to share the message with seven WhatsApp groups by clicking on the green ‘Share Now’. The user must allow the page to open WhatsApp to send the message.
Repeating this process seven times redirects the user to the next step where they are asked for their bank details.
This is the step where the website gathers sensitive personal data. It asks for the user’s bank name and their account number under the guise of sending them the ‘lockdown funds’ instantly.
The page still functions without any input and when no selection is made. Clicking on ‘Claim Now’ redirects the user to websites that have nothing to do with what the user thought they were signing up for.
The website redirects the user to different software or application installing pages, with the application being different every time the process is completed.
This helps us draw the conclusion that this is yet another scam link. It is a malicious process that aims at gathering user data by asking for direct inputs or gathering contact information by asking the user to send it to a large number of people on WhatsApp (in this case, seven groups.)
This is known as a telemarking scam and their sole purpose is to gather user information to build a database, which can be sold to marketers.
While the government has announced multiple relief funds and measures to soften the economic impact that the lockdown has on people and business, no such scheme of giving away Rs 5,000 through a registration link was announced. Secondly, if it was a government initiative, the link to the webpage would end with .gov or .gov.in, and not .com.
Such links are usually WhatsApp scams or telemarketing scams, that aim to earn money by gathering user data.
These links earn revenue in two ways:
- When people receive links such as this one, they fill the form up without any worry as they feel like they have nothing to lose. The link does not ask for any money, so they think that there is no harm in giving it a shot. When they forward these messages to more and more people, most people give it a go. The owner of the website ends up having an entire organized database of people’s personal information, which they sell to telemarketers. These telemarketers then pester the users by calling them for insurance, credit cards, donations etc.
- Scam websites usually display a lot of advertisements. Due to the high traffic that links like this receive, the advertisement reaches more people, in turn generating ad hosting revenue for the owner of the website.
How can one identify these scams?
- The first step is to check the URL of the website. Authentic websites will have simple URLs that do not have too many characters. If it claims to be a government scheme, the URL is likely to contain .gov in the end.
- Genuine websites offering aid or freebies do not ask users to send the offer to a significant number of people via WhatsApp. This is a convenient way for the scam page owner to collect data and is a trap.
- Malicious websites are often full of advertisements on every step. Some prompt the user to install different applications or software, or sign up for a service.
- Such pages, when observed carefully, reveal a variety of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors.
This link is a WhatsApp Telemarketing scam link.
SMHoaxSlayer has previously debunked many such scams in detail in the past.