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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Just when people thought they have seen almost every high-profile online scams, a fresh phishing attack promising lucrative offers and deals for this Valentine's Day - when lovers express their affection with love and gifts for their partners, has given all quite an unfamiliar jolt.

Cyber experts have warned people regarding the 'FAKE' Valentine's Day gift vouchers claiming to offer free 7-day stay packages at luxurious hotels including at the TAJ. Another fraud message in the name of TATA is doing rounds on social media which offers a chance to win mobile phones.

Such messages, in phone or on WhatsApp, can lead to cyber-attack and it's a new technique used by the scammers to commit online fraud and prey on innocents or take advantage of them by collecting personal information, cautioned cyber experts.

SCAM ALERT 1: Answer the questions to receive Valentine's Day gifts. I participated in this questionnaire and won a mobile phone. My friend also got the prize. Come and get prizes.

[caption id="attachment_515056" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Fraud Message[/caption]

SCAM ALERT 2: I received a gift card from TAJ Hotel and finally got the chance to stay in TAJ Hotel for 7 days for free. And then a link follows.

[caption id="attachment_515065" align="aligncenter" width="750"] Fraud Message[/caption]

Soon, Taj Hotels issued a clarification and asked people to exercise caution. "It has come to our notice that a website has been promoting a Valentine’s Day initiative, offering a Taj Experiences Gift Card via WhatsApp. We would like to inform that Taj Hotels/IHCL has not offered any such promotion. We request to take note of this and exercise due caution."

Prashant Sahu, senior cyber expert from Odisha, has highlighted two such instances where people received fraudulent messages on their phones and WhatsApp numbers that offered free Valentine's Day gift vouchers. Sahu further advised people not to click on the links attached to the messages.

What these links do is they direct the person(s) to an application form which seeks confidential information, subsequently leading to cyber-attacks and possible loss of money in the account.

Revealing the modus operandi, Prashant Sahu said, "In name of Valentine's Day offer, You may get such WhatsApp /SMS Message. If you click, they will collect personal details of you, then will ask you to forward the same message to other groups. They will then ask you to load a dangerous application on your mobile."

To stay safe - Don't click on the link, don't forward the message to other groups, don't fill-up the form, alerted the cyber expert.

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