The Financial Literacy Cell
The Spurious Schemes
“Viral diseases are not as contagious as rumours go viral on media”
Fake news can be termed as a new trend in India. From the illiterate to the highly educated, fake news has impacted every section of society. It is human nature to be attracted to the word ‘free’. Obviously, who does not like things that can be availed for free? Similarly, the poor section of the society waits for the government to launch any kind of ‘scheme’ which can impact their lives in the slightest possible way. And, because of this, they often become the
target for fraudsters. These tricksters fool innocent people by spreading fake news about a scheme which was earlier launched by the government. Now the question is, who are these fraudsters? Well, they can be anyone, from the top-level ministers to an ordinary person. They don’t have anything in common except the fact that their sole aim is to fraud people, both mentally and financially. During this pandemic, when the economy is stagnant and all
the curves show a downward trend, the government is trying it’s best to give life to the economy by launching various schemes that can elevate the underprivileged people. But they are unaware of the already prevailing list of fraud schemes which are more hazardous to society than any other thing.
Plan of Action
The method of using fake schemes to fool people is almost the same. Fake news can be spread through any social media platform but the fraudsters seem to have a special liking for
WhatsApp. WhatsApp Messenger is used by a larger portion of the population and hence the rumours can spread like a wildfire. The recent case of a whatsapp forwarded message
which claimed that the government will provide free solar panels for houses without any cost turned out to be fake. It required people to fill a form to avail the scheme. There was
a link to the alleged form which was included in the message and by clicking on the link you grant access to the fraudsters to use your personal details for their benefits. In some cases,
a whole network of people is set up to spread fake news and a prominent example of this is the ‘Pradhan Mantri Shishu Vikas Yojana’. This was a fake government scheme which was
run by three men and they duped over 15000 people across the country. The men established a network of state, district, and taluk-level agents for luring people. Under this scheme, they promised to offer insurance for children at a cheap rate. The accused also planned to offer other bogus schemes to members and misused their hard-earned money. Over the last few days, the PIB fact check which is the official fact-checking Twitter handle has warned about three fake ‘yojanas’ being promoted via social media and text messages. They are the ‘PM Mask Yojana’, ‘Rashtriya Sikshit Berojgar
Yojana’ and ‘The Scholarship to study from home’. It is said that these schemes are fake and aimed at tricking users into giving their personal details, which could later be used for
social engineering-based financial or identity scams.
It has also been seen that many people leave their personal details like their Aadhar card number, phone number, and credit card details either on the fake scheme website or with
the people who come to them with these schemes. Often, we receive some deceptive calls telling us about the particular the scheme, and the moment we pick them, all our details get
transferred to the fraudsters. The bitter truth is that innocent people blame themselves for the fraud. Without any proper redressal of their grievance, they repent over the money which they lost to some fraudulent people. In some cases, people see suicide as the only option left with them to get rid of the anxiety they develop because of fake
Resolving the issue:
The sad reality is that the spoof news and fake schemes are a problem of only those people who are a victim of it. The rest just mock the people being fooled. Even if some fake schemes are brought into the limelight by the ministers, then their objective is only to gain political advantage instead of creating awareness. The need of the hour is to prevent people from being the prey of the tricksters. There can be various ways in which we can tackle this problem of fake scheme menace. Firstly, the central government should make provisions by creating appropriate redressal websites where the victim of fake schemes can register their grievances. A tollfree number and a handy website that can be accessed by everyone should be launched for resolving the issues smoothly. Secondly, the government should use various social media platforms to warn people about the fake news trend prevalent in India. One such example of this is the chatbot, called MyGov corona helpdesk which was recently launched by Facebook-owned app in association with the central government to create awareness as well as fight misinformation about coronavirus pandemic. Thirdly, various drives and campaigns should be conducted by NGO’s in collaboration with the central government to make people aware of the fake schemes.
It is necessary to check the authenticity of any message, call, or email which one receives. If a person is not confident about the authenticity of the message, then neither he
should believe it nor he should forward it to other people. Creating awareness about spoof news will require the joint and dedicated efforts of every department of the government as well as the people. By being united against the duplicitous people we can not only defeat them but also end the trend of fake scheme menace. Above all, it's our personal duty to become more humane and ethical and not disgrace humanity by indulging, supporting, propagating such petty actions.
By Priyanshi Sharma