Free Reliance Jio Recharge Worth Rs 498? It’s a Fake Viral Message
A message which claims Reliance Jio is offering its Indian users a free prepaid recharge worth Rs 498 on the occasion of having hit the 50-crore users mark in the country, has gone viral.
Being shared widely on social media, the message says the offer is being rolled out ahead of Diwali and is valid only till 17 October. The message further urges people to click on the attached link to avail of the special offer.
Offer Publicised by Jio? Not Really
Besides their being no news regarding Jio having amassed 50 crore users, The Quint wasn’t able to find an official source of the message’s claims either. No announcement was made either on the service provider’s social media pages or on its website.
Since Diwali was mentioned in the viral message, we further checked whether Jio had any such Diwali offer which promises users a free recharge. While looking for this, we came across a section on Jio’s website mentioning only one Diwali 2019 offer, which had nothing to do with a recharge.
Itching to Click? Here’s What’ll Happen
Team WebQoof found the viral message was being shared with multiple links. While we received the same message with different links from our readers on our WhatsApp helpline, we found some more on Twitter as well.
Broken Links, Uninvited Downloads
While a few of the available links seemed to be broken and didn’t load any webpage, one of the links we could access automatically downloaded an APK file (file extensions of Android OS apps) titled PaytmFirstGames.
That clicking on a seemingly innocuous link can provide unfettered access to our cellphones can be illustrated by a secret surveillance programme in Mexico.
In 2017, Mexico was rocked by a massive controversy after a New York Times investigation revealed that Mexican government agencies had targeted journalists and anti-corruption activists by sending them text messages containing a link.
The spyware, known as Pegasus, purchased from Israeli cyber security company NSO, "infiltrates smartphones to monitor every detail of a person’s cellular life – calls, texts, email, contacts and calendars. It can even use the microphone and camera on phones for surveillance, turning a target’s smartphone into a personal bug," the NYT story revealed.
Signing Up on a Strange Portal
Clicking on one of the links (https://paidera.com/?r=170092) took us to a page called Paidera which dangled a reward of upto $5 if a person would follow instructions such as signing up on the portal.
On clicking on the tab called ‘Sign-up & Claim your Reward’, we were directed to a page which asked for details such as name, username, email ID and password.
We filled up all the tabs with the required information in order to proceed. But what’s interesting is that we were able to sign up to this portal using an email as arbitrary as ******@blah.com. The fact that we could sign up to the portal using an email as ‘blah’ shows the lack of credibility of the portal.
Moreover, after completing the sign-up process, we were asked to sign in with the same information, after which we were taken to what looked like the backend of a content management system (CMS).
As may be obvious, at no point was the Jio prepaid recharge given, nor the $5 reward as promised at the time of the sign-up process. At no point in the process did anything related to Jio come up.
But of Course... App Downloads
Clicking on one of the links led us to a page which had two options.
When we clicked on the option called ‘Paytm Spin & Win Offer’, we were directed to a spin the wheel game on a page that vaguely resembled Paytm’s own.
While the page looked like Paytm, a hint to the fact that it is not an official page is that the link ends in .xyz.
The message on this page claimed that spinning the wheel three times would lead to a reward – Rs 2,500 Paytm money. On spinning the wheel the first time, we received a dialogue box that said that we had won Rs 1,000 Paytm cash.
On completing the quota of three spins, we finally received a message which said that we had won a total of Rs 2,500 (1,000 + 600 + 900), adding that the amount would be credited within 24 hours if all the steps were completed.
On pressing OK, we were taken to another page resembling Paytm where we were asked to put in our details like name and phone number. However, we were able to get past this page by putting in arbitrary letters in the boxes instead of the details requested, another red flag in this process.
Next, we were directed to a page which said that it was the ‘final human verification step’, which promised that the Rs 2,500 amount won previously would be transferred if a ‘small offer’ below were completed.
We chose to click on Clash Royale Quiz and finally, we were taken to a page which asked us to download an app, specifically, Spotify.
Not surprisingly, we haven’t actually received the money yet.
Additionally, there was no sign of any Jio recharge or any intervention by Jio at any point in this process either. Therefore, it is safe to say that this is not a scheme or offer by Jio but just another spam message or a phishing scam that is doing the rounds.
Warning: We’d advise you not click on any link in any such message received, there could be far worse consequences than the ones outlined here.
Did Jio Hit the 50-Crore Users Mark?
The message claims that Jio has hit the 50-crore users mark, and the offer is being extended to all Indian users in celebration of the same. However, we checked and found no credible information about the telecom operator having hit the 50-crore or 500-million users mark.
According to a News18 report published on 12 August, Jio had amassed 340 million subscribers. This information came from the 42nd Reliance India Limited Annual General Meeting where Mukesh Ambani mentioned that the telco was adding 10 million new users every month, meaning that a target of 500 million subscribers could be achieved very soon. (Note: News18 is part of Network 18, owned by Reliance India)
Moreover, a Quartz report from 14 October also termed Jio simply as “India’s biggest telecom company with over 350 million subscribers.”
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