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THE REALM OF ONLINE FRAUD & CHEATING

In the era of cyber world as the usage of computers became more popular, there was expansion in the growth of technology as well. The evolution of Information Technology gave birth to the cyber space wherein internet provides equal opportunities to all the people to access any information, data storage, analyse etc. with the use of high technology. Due to increase in the number of people using internet and new forms of technology, its misuse in the cyberspace was clutching up which gave birth to cyber crimes at the domestic and international level as well. Cyber crime is distinct from word crime in the sense that the former is a subset of the latter, cyber crime focuses on crimes that take place online or with use of internet while crime in itself includes cyber crime and various other types of crimes.
One such type of cyber crime is related to cheating and frauds committed online.
The term refers to any type of fraud scheme that uses email, websites, computer networks or any Internet related means to present fraudulent solicitations to prospective victims, to conduct fraudulent transactions, or to transmit the proceeds of fraud to financial institutions or to others connected with the scheme. In simple words Internet fraud is the use of Internet services or software with Internet access to defraud victims or to otherwise take advantage of them while using deception.
The rapid growth of electronic commerce has created fertile ground for online fraud and deception. Internet crimes occur every day and affect everyday life.
Some of the most common types of online frauds and cheating are:
1. Internet Purchase/ Auction fraud and Non delivery of Merchandise
It is one of the most prevalent and common type of fraud that takes place over the internet. This scam consists of someone posting a product for sale on an auction site to sell the product to the highest bidder. The product, however, is either nonexistent or not the product described on the auction site. Scammers will try to collect the full funds from the winning bidder before shipping the product which maybe done through e wallet payments like PAYTM or through money wire transfer. Now the scammer may not deliver the product at all or will deliver something either of not any use or of such nature as different from the product ordered.

2. Phishing
This type of fraud mainly involves obtaining certain credential information from the victim which is further used to exploit him. Phishing is the act of attempting to fraudulently acquire sensitive information, such as passwords and credit card details, by masquerading as a trustworthy person or business with a real need for such information in a seemingly official electronic notification or message (most often an email, or an instant message). It is a form of social engineering attack which can be done directly or indirectly.
The person may call as impersonating from a bank and may ask for credit card numbers or account details which if provided are used to transfer the funds thus duping the victim concerned.

3. Investment Frauds
Various investment schemes typically target stock investors, trying to steal money and investors’ identities. Some of these scams will come in the form of an online newsletter. In these newsletters, frauds will offer inside information on stocks, for a fee, and offer false data instead of real information. Companies often use online bulletin boards to publish information; however, a bogus board will release disinformation. A pump and dump scheme can start with a fraudulent newsletter or bulletin board where secret or private information is offered. The object of this scheme is to alter stock values. After effectively hindering a stock, the scammer will sell his or her own stock in a timely fashion for personal gain.

4. Credit/Debit Card Fraud
This type of fraud involves person using a debit or a credit card to fill in the details or register the credit card on a fraudulent website. When a reputable, trustworthy vendor asks for credit card information, it won’t save the data without user permission and will take steps to keep user information safe. Fraudulent sites will ask for the same information as does a reputable site, but will steal the information and make purchases using the data the credit card owner gave to the website.

5. Identity Fraud
It includes identity theft and spamming. Identity theft occurs when a party acquires transfers, possesses, or uses personal information of a natural or legal person in an unauthorised manner, with the intent to commit, or in connection with, fraud or other crimes. Identity theft counts as identity fraud scheme and is a vehicle for perpetrating other types of fraud schemes, especially payment fraud. Spam is implicated in a common form of fraud, in which bulk emails are dispersed to millions of email addresses in an effort to corrupt people’s computers, steal identities or pull unknowing individuals into paying for fraudulent products or services. A spam message will offer any number of false dealings to recipients. Popular offerings including low-interest loans, free credit report checks, sweepstake winnings and relationships with local singles. These types of scams require people to open a message and click on a link. This opens up the computer to a virus, worm or other bug that will corrupt the computer. In cases of identity theft, the bug will attempt to retrieve passwords, Social Security numbers, credit card information, home addresses and telephone numbers. Other bugs will embed themselves in the computer’s registry and damage system performance.

Apart from these there is variety of different frauds which takes place using the internet and computer networks which could be classified in the category of miscellaneous frauds and includes misleading advertising, software piracy, overpayment fraud etc.

Initially the laws were limited only to the Indian Penal Code 1860 that consisted of provisions relating to frauds and cheating but as the time passed by and scope of online frauds and cheating increased legislature came up with Information Technology Act, 2000 which specifies various frauds committed online and their punishments. In today scenario both legislations are used to determine one’s guilt and punishment.
The ever-growing reliance on computers and the Internet, Internet fraud has been an increasing concern for civilians and law-enforcement agencies. Though government has come out with various rules and regulation, it is also a duty of an individual to be aware and apply his mind while indulging in ecommerce transactions. People should also take certain preventive steps to save themselves from such frauds like installing anti viruses and firewalls and be vigilant enough.