A message has been circulating on Facebook and WhatsApp claiming that the union government is offering Rs 25,000 to every family of the country. The message also carries a link that is supposed to take registrations of people for the scheme. The claim made by this viral message is false and the whole thing is a scam. The link takes you to a fake website that takes your personal information, tells you to share the same message with your friends on WhatsApp, and asks to install an app to become eligible for the scheme.
The message reads, “सन् 2020 के नये बजट के अनुसार भारत के हर परिवार के किसी भी एक व्यक्ति को प्रधानमंत्री आवास योजना के तहत 25000 रु दिए जा रहे है, अगर आपके परिवार में से किसी ने भी इस योजना का लाभ नहीं उठाया है तो आप अभी नीचे लिंक पर क्लिक करके फॉर्म भरे और 25000 रु प्राप्त करे। (According to the new budget of 2020, one person from every family in India are being given Rs 25000 under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana. If none of your family members have availed this scheme, click at the link below to fill the form and get Rs 25000).”
What happens on the website
Once you tap on the link “pmyojna.ssctechnical.com”, it takes you to a website that has the banners for Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Prime Minister Housing Scheme) Shahri (unban) and Gramin (rural) with the picture of PM Narendra Modi and a small form asking for your name, phone number, address, and pin code.
The website also claims that the offer is valid only till April 30, 2020. It also has a countdown claiming to denote the number of people who have taken advantage of the scheme. It also has a ticker at the top that reads— Subedar Yadav has received Rs 25,000 via Awas Yojana.
No matter what you write in the provided form, it will take you to the next step. You can even leave all the columns empty and tap on the “Submit Now” button to go forward. On the next screen, the website asks you to share the offer to five of your friends after which your application will be received and you will be contacted via Village Development Officer (VDO) to give you Rs 25,000.
Pressing the given share button opens WhatsApp but even if you come back to the website without sharing the link, it will count your share. After tapping five times on the share button, and pressing the Submit Now button, the website says that the application has been received.
However, the website also asks to download “pm official app” to verify your mobile number or else the registration will be cancelled.
Tapping on the “Download App” button takes you to the “m.videobuddy.com” website that downloads VideoBuddy app on your phone. When you go back and click on “Confirm Registration button on the website, it says that you will have to install the app, register there, and then verify your number.
VideoBuddy is not the “pm official app” or whatever the website claims it to be. The app is a video detector and downloader and available on Google Play Store.
Identifying the scam
These kind of scams are very common. The whole procedure remains always the same and the only thing that changes is the URL and the claim.
The URL of the website forwarded with the viral message gives it away that the whole thing is a scam. All the official websites associated with the government of India end in (dot)gov(dot)in or (dot)nic.(in). The website in question here ends in (dot)com. Also, the official website of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana is “pmaymis.gov.in” and not pmyojna.ssctenchical.com.
The government has not announced any such scheme and we could not find any information related to the claim made by the message on the official website. Also, If you look at the website carefully, you will spot that the whole thing is fake:
*The meta title of the website (title of a web page) is “Bootstrap Example” instead of a proper title
*There is also a “User Profile Card” at the bottom with the picture of Prime Minister with the name of spelling as “Narendr Nodi”
*The profile also has social media icons that are linked back to the same website and do not take you anywhere
There is a “Terms & Privacy” button below the form. When you click it, the website reveals itself as a “prank”. It says that the aim of this website is only to pull a prank and your friend has made a fool out of you using this website. There is no government scheme.
The website also says that its aim is not to harm you in any way. It adds that neither does it misuse your data nor does it stores it.
What does the fake website want to achieve?
Even though the website says that it is a prank, we’d like to disagree. It is a tactic to trick users into installing an app and registering on it. Prank websites usually tell you that you have been pranked at the very first instance; remember those love percentage prank sites that end up revealing your crush’s name to your friend?
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Usually, such kind of fraud websites just copy paste a random chunk of text under Terms & Conditions page but this particular site claims to be a prank. Apart from forcing you to install an app, these kinds of fraud websites also earn money through advertisement. However, on this particular website, we could not see any Google supported ads, instead, we saw images made to look like actual advertisements with a fixed link redirecting to another kind of spam websites.
Upon closer look at the advertisement template, we noticed a graphical display picture of a lad with the text “tech with subhash” written over it.
We also found berogari-bhatta.ssctechnical.com link hidden on the last page of this website that takes the user to “Pradhan Mantri Berozgari Bhatta Yojana”. As you would have guessed it by now, it is another scam from the same person/group under the disguise of the unemployment compensation scheme.