Jan, 19 Jio Tower Scam: fake Reliance websites are taking people’s money
A tactful ‘customer care agent’ urges the potential client to submit certain documents via WhatsApp.
Credits: VisualHunt 44609760204
By Nitish Rampal
A mass-marketing fraud in the name of Reliance Jio has been luring in unsuspecting victims across the country, duping them of lakhs of rupees.
These frauds, which are unique to India – owing to its rapidly expanding mobile market – trap victims by offering to “lease” out their land at exorbitant rents (Rs 15-35,000 per month) for setting up mobile communication towers, and also offer a handsome one-time advance payment (Rs 10-25 lakh).
The catch: A “small” processing fee anywhere in the range of Rs 10-50,000. This “small” fee accrues to lakhs and even crores with an increase in the number of victims.
cold-calling people as the “Reliance Jio 4G Tower” department, sending out “lottery” letters announcing selection of their property for the towers, reaching out via bulk SMSes and even enticing people through advertisements in national dailies. one of the websites. website.
MOST WEBSITES SHARE A SIMILAR SOURCE CODE
One of the most professional-looking websites among the many that can be found via Google is
Another iteration of the same website can be found on another domain:
– which is apparent in a side-by-side comparison. JioTower.org.in PublicWWW analysis – a source code-based search engine – revealed that this particular website’s source code has been replicated in 14 other domains online – highlighting the massive scale of operations.
“Our engineers will inspect your site via satellite and we will get back to you only after your documents are verified,” an agent said.
Queries on whether the documents could be submitted via post, or in person, and if the verification could be done by an agent were met with a curt “WhatsApp only”.
‘A small processing fee’
After you send across the documents, and a bogus verification is done ‘via satellite’, you are required to submit a ‘small processing fee’ (somewhere in the range of Rs 10-50,000).
The same can also be packaged as documentation fee, tax charges, government fees etc.
If you seem hesitant, the staff behind this racket are trained to persuade you further.
Anil Singh Bhadoria from Madhya Pradesh, one of the victims of the scam, recounts: “After I expressed my apprehensions about the so-called satellite inspection, and demanded that I meet with an engineer in person, I was sent a cheque, or rather the image of one, worth Rs 10 lakh via WhatsApp. And even after I said no, I would get frequent calls and invoices of the proposed transaction.”
Sharma’s story, unfortunately, is not an isolated incident. Countless others have suffered a similar fate.
“I feel I was lucky. For so many people have called me after seeing a complaint I filed online… they had even paid the Rs 52,500 second installment and were asking if Jio had installed the tower on my plot or not. So many others were looted like this,” Sharma added.
Sharma said that he had also received an invoice of his payment on a Reliance Jio letterhead, which he provided a copy of.
consumer complaint forums that are full of similar cases.
News reports from across the country also highlight the scale and reach of this scam:
How they evade police and legal scanner
An interesting fact that emerged after interacting with the victims was that the bank accounts they were asked to submit to were in the names of common people and not Reliance. Also, they were never from the same state as the victim.
This inter-state nature of the scam is a fail-safe measure to ensure that it becomes increasingly difficult to report and/or investigate these crimes.
“I tried to report the crime to the local police station but they were reluctant to lodge an official complaint as the bank account of the perpetrator was in Gurugram. I was also dissuaded to pursue the case as the amount was not that much,” said Bhadoria, a victim from Madhya Pradesh.
The fact that the amounts being extorted are significantly small and rarely, if ever, exceed Rs 50-60,000 helps the perpetrators evade the police/legal scanner as all instances are seen as cases of individual, small-scale frauds.
And, as it became evident from all the victims’ accounts, the perpetrators change their mobile numbers frequently – often right after the initial payment is made.
The Quint reached out to Reliance Jio for a comment on the matter and asked about the company’s plan to curb this menace.
Although Reliance provided no official comment on the scams, it pointed out that the company routinely releases information to sensitise its users about these scams – via SMS communication, a cautionary notice
on their website, and public notices in newspapers etc. Indus Towers, for a response. Although no official communication could be established (any reply to The Quint’s official communication will be updated here) we were informed that the only way to acquire such a tower is to register your land on the website and wait for the company to call you back in case there is a requirement.
Everything is done as per the DoT guidelines, an Indus Towers’ representative said.
WHAT DO THE DoT GUIDELINES SAY?
The Department of Telecommunications (DoT) had issued
a public notice regarding the forgery in mobile tower installation.
Acknowledging the ongoing scams, the department said that such companies were “issuing fake ‘No objection certification’ permission for the installation of a tower issued by Department of Telecommunications”.
The notice clearly states that the DoT was not “directly or indirectly involved in levying any tax/ fees on leasing the premises for installation of a mobile tower or for issuing any No Objection certification for the purpose.”
DoT Advisory on installatio… by on Scribd
LIST OF LICENSED VENDORS
Another way to verify if the vendor claiming to install the tower is authentic or not is to check whether it is licensed and registered with the DoT.
here for a full list of registered and licensed vendors. Google earning revenue off fraudulent websites?
The Quint also reached out to Google to enquire into how and why these fraudulent websites were featured on the Google Ads platform.
(UPDATED) A Google spokesperson informed
The Quint that the company is looking into the matter and issued the following statement:
“We have a strict set of policies that govern the types of ads we do and don’t allow on Google in order to protect people from misleading, inappropriate, or harmful ads. We suspend and terminate advertisers who break our policies – in 2017, we took down more than 3.2 billion ads. We’re constantly updating our policies as we see new threats emerge.” How to spot a fake website/scam
There are some easy steps you can take to check the authenticity of a website:
HTTP = Bad, HTTPS = Good: Never trust an HTTP website with your personal information. The ‘S’ in https:// stands for secure and indicates that the website uses encryption to transfer data, protecting it from hackers. Check for easy markers such as spelling mistakes, typos, broken links and site loops. Look for the copyright information at the bottom of the page. That usually helps. Look up the domain age: Fake websites usually don’t last long and have fairly new domains. You can look up more information about the domain using Domain Big Data. Look for reliable contact information: Look for several ways to contact the company (phone, email, live chat, address) and try them out. Walk away from deals that are too good to be true: And last but not least, know that nobody will hand you cash or deals that are too good to be true. Just walk away.
The original article can be found on Bloomberg Quint .