The Bengaluru Techie had ordered the pizza online through a smartphone home delivery service application. He tried to get a refund for non-delivery and called the helpline after searching on Google. Fraudsters tricked him to share his bank details then they hacked and stole ₹95,000 in two installments.
- Do NOT click on unknown links in SMS or WhatsApp!
- Always get helpline numbers from the official website or App’s help section. Many companies only offer help via chat or email. Don’t be fooled by fake numbers.
When it comes to ordering a pizza online, most of us don’t really worry too much about the risks associated with doing so. After all, it’s only a pizza—how can anyone get scammed over that? Unfortunately for one Bengaluru techie, the reality of the online shopping world would soon catch up to him when he realized that the pizza he had ordered online came with a price tag of a whopping ₹95,000!
What Actually Happened?
On December 1, N.V. Sheikh, who works for Bengaluru’s Koramangala, decided that he would treat himself to a pizza in the afternoon. He used an app on his smartphone to place an order for the pizza, and then sat back and continued on with his day while waiting for his meal to arrive. However, it never did. After an hour of waiting, Sheikh thought he would just check up on the status of his order. Upon doing so, however, he was told that eateries were not accepting his pizza order and so the money he had paid for the meal would instead be refunded.
Helpfully, the telephone operator advised N.V. Sheikh that an automated text message would soon be sent out to his mobile. Contained within that message would be a link that would approve the refund request. Indeed, this text message arrived—as promised—not long later. Sheikh happily clicked on the link in order to cancel his order, clearly frustrated about not receiving his pizza but glad that the money would be easily refunded. What he did not realize, though, was that the link and the telephone operator claiming to be the food delivery company itself was fraudulent—and the act of clicking on this link actually made him a victim of online phishing.
Unbeknownst to Sheikh at the time, as soon as he had clicked the link contained within that text message, fraudsters were able to access his bank details which had been stored within his device. This simple mistake then meant that the fraudsters were able to take a huge sum of money from Sheikh’s bank account remotely—₹95,000—within a matter of a few minutes.
Indeed, the payment was made in two rapid transactions; the first payment of ₹45,000 was gone right away and then before he could transfer the funds to another bank account, the remaining ₹50,000 was also lost. Arguably the most heart-wrenching fact of this case has to be that this money was being saved for Sheikh’s mother, who was suffering from cancer, and who desperately needed expensive treatment.
So, what went wrong?
A spokesperson for the food delivery app affirmed that the app itself does not offer direct telephone support, only live chat services and email contact. As such, the team that Sheikh was talking to was actually in no way connected to the food delivery app itself, and so he was unknowingly dealing with a corrupt team of scammers who had managed to fool him into thinking that they were representatives of the food delivery app instead.
In short, it can be assumed that Sheikh fell into the trap of looking for a phone number for the food delivery service by a Google Search, an act which he now surely regrets deeply. Scammers posing as other companies are rife on the internet, and considering that the food delivery app in question does not offer telephone communication services, it is unsurprising that people fall into this trap while searching for a number to call.
The spokesperson for the food delivery app urged its customers to take caution when making such telephone calls, and “to be vigilant and not share personal or bank account details with anyone.” The spokesperson then further added that the app “make[s] all efforts to ensure customer safety and security.”
Unfortunately, this is not the first time that such an event has happened. Indeed, this unpleasant case follows another recent case wherein another resident of Bengaluru saw ₹85,000 stolen from their bank account after falling victim to a similar payment app scam.
In short, Sheikh is likely now far more aware of the risks of shopping online, and it is highly encouraged that others who use food delivery apps and the like take caution when using the service. Specifically, make sure to check carefully the communication services that the company offers and be sure that you are talking to the right person and not a scammer who will be leaving a rather unpleasant taste in your mouth once you see the size of the bill for your next meal order.