Amid the country’s high cost of living, there’s an increased risk of individuals falling prey to ongoing scams and cyber frauds as more people are desperately resorting to earning quick money, the Sri Lanka Computer Emergency Readiness Team (SLCERT) said.

Senior Information Security Engineer Charuka Damunupola of SLCERT told that several incidents relating to social media platforms, such as Facebook, now known as Meta, Messenger were reported in addition to people spending money on pyramid schemes.

Recently, several cases were reported from Facebook where scammers were identified sending ‘friend requests’ thereafter asking the individuals to vote for certain competitions. The friend request might be sent by a person who is already on the friend list of their Facebook profile, Damunupola said.

The request might say to send back a four-digit number to the person as a code to vote for the competition. The four-digit code number is the One Time Password (OTP), which is sent by the Facebook company for actions such as changing passwords, he added. After sending the OTP, the original Facebook owner will lose his account, which has by then been hacked.

Therefore, the SLCERT Senior Information Security Engineer requested people not to share the OTP codes with anyone.

Damunupola claimed that another scam which was also spreading on a messaging platform was requesting to share clear copies of an individual’s National Identity Card (NIC), information page of the Sri Lanka passport, and copies of driving licences, including their signatures, to issue free SIM cards with unlimited facilities such as unlimited calls and data.

SLCERT reported that some victims had sent their personal identification details to unknown parties. Those unknown parties had used those NICs, passport copies and driving licences for various criminal activities and to open bank accounts to engage in illegal money transactions.

Damunupola claimed that a total of 12 cases were reported within the past two weeks after victims had provided personal information. “Even with the complaints lodged, investigations cannot be launched, because most of the accounts that received the personal identification documents are fake and operated from various other countries,” he said.

Most of these crimes are directed to the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) to continue with the investigations, he said.

Seven internet scam incidents were reported during this month, and 41 cases reported in February. Scams such as OTP scams and online foreign job scams were reported from January.

Another trending scam activity reported was that of a request to pay Rs.99 as an online payment to redirect a parcel that came by post and was sent to the wrong address. The person who requested the payment sends a web page link to enter credit card details. The web page links to a page similar to the Sri Lanka Postal Department. Soon after submitting the details, the credit card details will fall into the wrong hands.

Therefore, Damunupola requested people not to provide their OTPs, personal identification details, bank accounts, and credit card details to unknown parties. He also requested not to spend money on pyramid schemes, which are mostly promoted on YouTube videos.

Currently the CID and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL) have initiated separate investigations to apprehend a man and his wife who are alleged to have defrauded approximately Rs. 8 billion from around 22,000 individuals across different parts of the country under the guise of establishing a trading community.

Initial investigations of the CID revealed that the suspect had promised individuals that the scheme aimed to establish a trading community and acquire dollars for the country by distributing educational packages worth millions of rupees to various people.

source daily mirror