IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Oct 2020
The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. – Confucius
EDITORIAL HUNT #183 :“Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC”
Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC
Akhil Mothe is a fact-checker with Factly
Promised free vehicles, funds? It’s all fake
It is high time the government takes note of the fake schemes menace
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Schemes : Fake News
Fake scheme are leveraging personal data and deceiving people to extreme levels of exploitation. Critically analyse fake scheme menace at national level. -(GS 3)
- Online Frauds
- Modus Operandi
- Leaving Details Online
- ONLINE FRAUDSTERS : Fraudsters have been duping the public with non-existent government schemes , this problem has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- PRIVACY ISSUES : Many of these fake schemes are aimed not only at harvesting the personal data of citizens, but also duping them financially.
- HUGE MARKET : The extent and spread of fake schemes on these platforms can be quite surprising to some.
- DELIBERATION : While other forms of misinformation ( fake news) are widely discussed and researched, fake schemes are least debated.
- DAMAGE AND GREIF : Like other forms of misinformation, fake schemes also cause immense harm to large sections of the public.
- SHARING ECOSYSTEM : Unlike other forms of misinformation, news about fake schemes is shared by people across the ideological and social spectrum.
- SIMILAR CASES : The modus operandi of fake schemes is more or less similar in most cases.
- SCAM : In the case of fake employment and loan schemes, people receive a personal or general message.
- CALL TO ACTION : These message inform them that they have been selected for a government scheme (which most often does not exist).
- CAPTURING THE LEAD : They are told that if they wish to avail the benefits of the scheme, they have to pay a certain amount as processing charges.
- DARK INTERNET : Some fake schemes do not leave any digital trace on the Internet despite the times we live in.
STEP 1 : Letters were directly sent to ‘village pradhans’ (sarpanches) in Telangana, Punjab, Meghalaya .
STEP 2 : Some other States were asked to select candidates from their village and send a demand draft of ₹1,200 per candidate to get their villagers enrolled under the scheme.
STEP 3 : Unfortunately, without checking with the official agencies, many youngsters sent these amounts.
STEP 4 : All this was done without leaving any digital trace or no phone number.There were only letters and an address.
- PUBLIC OUTRAGE : In some cases, people even lined up before government offices and demanded officials to register them under these fake government schemes.
- CLARITY : At times, political leaders have had to come on television to clarify that there are no such schemes, as in the case of the PM Scooty Yojana!
LEAVING DETAILS ONLINE
- NICHE SELECTION : While communal, social and political fake news gain a lot of attention , fake government schemes appear to have created their own niche in the world of fake news.
- MAXIMUM SHARES : They mostly get shared through fake website links on social media platforms, WhatsApp messages and YouTube videos.
- CROSS CHECKING : A simple search with the name of these schemes on platforms like YouTube shows us how deep rooted and successful the fake schemes ecosystem is.
- THE SET TRAP : Though many people are literate, they still believe these schemes to be true and fall for them.
- DISCUSSION FORUMS : On many YouTube videos , individuals have left their personal details like phone numbers, Aadhaar numbers and bank account details in the comments section.
- GRIEVANCE REDRESS MECHANISM : With no proper and quick grievance redress mechanism, most of the duped citizens blame themselves for falling for the scam and remain silent.
- A CASE OF GENUINE SCHEME : There is also the danger that they won’t apply for genuine schemes when they constantly come across fake ones.
TACKLING THE PROBLEM
- VISIBILITY : While the Press Information Bureau and a few State governments have set up fact-checking initiatives, the visibility of these initiatives is limited.
- CONCERTED EFFORT : The need of the hour is an integrated and concerted effort by all stakeholders to tackle the menace of fake schemes.
- TOLL-FREE NUMBER : There is need for a centralised government portal with a toll-free number where people can inquire about the messages and file complaints, like they do in the case of cybercrimes.
- SWIFT ACTION : The portal should direct the complaints of people who get duped to the relevant State Police, who should be equipped to deal with the fraudulent practices in a swift manner.
- MONITORING : Websites that have names similar to government schemes need to be monitored, and necessary proactive action should be initiated if they resort to malpractices.
- BANK ACCOUNTS : The same can be done with bank account names that sound similar to real government schemes.
- AWARENESS : The State should also alert people about fake schemes so that people are able to differentiate between what’s genuine and what’s fake.
- ROLE OF MEDIA : The mainstream media, both print and electronic, which gets government advertisements, should be mandated to carry some of these alerts.
- VISIBLE ALERTS : The messages should be available everywhere, including in districts, and in the local languages.
It is high time the State takes a note of the fake scheme menace.
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL HUNT | Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC