Mobile Fraud: A New Way of Thugonomics


Mobile Fraud: Those allegations that people’s phones & Aadhaar Numbers are being sold in bulk at penny prices seem convincible.

Photo by Sara Kurfeß on Unsplash

A good friend of mine called me today. He often calls me when he requires my help. He was sounding perplexed and jittered while describing the matter. He asked me, is it possible that can anyone take a loan in anyone’s name? I asked him to explain to me in the detail from the beginning.

He said someone has text him on WhatsApp that a person named Jitendra Kumar has taken a loan on his guarantee, and if it is not paid, a police case will be registered in his name.

I asked him to forward the message. At first glance, I understood the whole matter as I have also received those messages with different narratives. I assured him that this is all fake and is being circulated by online frauds. I counseled him to not fall for such tricks and gave him a good lecture on the matter.

But when I hang up the call, I was wondering how these people arrange our phone numbers to DM on your WhatsApp. Those allegations that people’s phones & Aadhaar Numbers are being sold in bulk at a penny price seem convincible. In the early days, sometimes even today, they E-mail, call or send you SMS that you have won lakhs, crores of the amount in a never participated lucky draw.

As an observant member of this society, I know people’s perspectives about media illiteracy. That’s why I always say, Most of the Indians are not bad, they are Bewkoof. So as being gullible, especially about these phenomena, one calls them out of curiosity, and get manipulated to share confidential like OTP and CVC numbers and if one persuades them blindly, assuming an official, clicking on a link or sharing the OTP, you receive a message that a sum of amount from your bank account has been debited.

Now, as they must have felt that this idea of online fraud has been famous among people, they have come up with legal intimidation.

Many people do get nervous and call on the given number. And when you call them, their scripted talk establishes a deep fear in you.

When you ask them for a solution, they offer you the traditional salvation, for that any government office is infamous. They ask you to serve them with a bribe.

Some people follow their dictate, some do not. However, for a nation whose people are in billions, second to China as the most populated nation on the globe, the scamsters thrive well enough.

One thing that is very certain in this matter is that the personal information of the people of this country is at stake. Our privacy is being compromised.

In the Puttaswamy vs Union of India case, 2017, the Right to Privacy was declared a fundamental right by the Supreme Court of India.

The right to privacy is protected as an intrinsic part of the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 and as a part of the freedoms guaranteed by Part III of the Indian Constitution.

Furthermore, there is the Right to be Forgotten (RTBF): which means the accountable person or an organization should remove publicly available personal information from the internet, search, databases, websites, or any other public platforms, once the personal information in question is no longer necessary, or relevant.

In the international context, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948, and Article 17 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), 1966, protect individuals against “arbitrary interference” with their privacy, family, home, correspondence, honor and reputation. 

Aadhaar Card is a 12 digital identity card issued by the Central government of India, after biometric data collection of the bearer, triggered debate for privacy breach. Several petitioners reached the supreme court to determine whether privacy is a fundamental right or not?

A nine-judge constitution bench of the Supreme Court on 25 August 2017, voted unanimously in favor of privacy as a fundamental right. “Privacy is intrinsic to the right to life and personal liberty under Article 21 of the Constitution and will be included under part III of the Constitution”, said chief justice J.S. Khehar.

In the given judgment, the court also overruled its two previous verdicts in the M.P. Sharma case of 1958 and the Kharak Singh case of 1961, which had said that the right to privacy was not protected under the Indian Constitution.

Ramon Magsaysay awardee Ravish Kumar in his book The Free Voice notes, “Since 2014 when the NDA government came to power, its attorneys general had maintained that privacy is not a fundamental right. However, at a press conference after the 24 August judgment (in which the court guarantees each individual of the country a ‘fundamental right to privacy), Union Law Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad tried to present the defeat handed down by the Supreme Court as a victory.”

 “Government welcomes the judgment,’ he said. ‘Government has been of the view, particularly with regard to Aadhaar, that the right to privacy should be a fundamental right. The Supreme Court has affirmed what the government had said in Parliament while moving the Aadhaar Bill”, the book reads.

read more: Hijab Ban: What Does International Law Say About Hijab Ban?

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