Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC

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IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 12th Oct 2020

The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones. – Confucius

Dear Aspirants
IASbhai Editorial Hunt is an initiative to dilute major Editorials of leading Newspapers in India which are most relevant to UPSC preparation –‘THE HINDU, LIVEMINT , INDIAN EXPRESS’ and help millions of readers who find difficulty in answer writing and making notes everyday. Here we choose two editorials on daily basis and analyse them with respect to UPSC MAINS 2020-21.

EDITORIAL HUNT #183 :“Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC

Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC

Akhil Mothe
Fake Schemes Menace | UPSC

 Akhil Mothe is a fact-checker with Factly

      HEADLINES:

Promised free vehicles, funds? It’s all fake

      CENTRAL THEME:

It is high time the government takes note of the fake schemes menace

SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 3: Schemes : Fake News

      MAINS QUESTION:

Fake scheme are leveraging personal data and  deceiving people to extreme levels of exploitation. Critically analyse fake scheme menace at national level. -(GS 3)

      LEARNING: 

  • Online Frauds
  • Modus Operandi
  • Leaving Details Online

      INTRODUCTION: 

EXERCISE
Log onto any social media and Type the name of any of these “schemes” — Free Laptop Scheme, PM Scooty Yojana, PM Kisan Tractor Yojana etc..

Fraudsters promise anything from free vehicles to free funds to fake employment offers.

      BODY: 

ONLINE FRAUDS

  • ONLINE FRAUDSTERS : Fraudsters have been duping the public with non-existent government schemes , this problem has become more widespread during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We live in an era where selling personal data can get a fraudster lakhs of rupees.

  • 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.

MODUS OPERANDI

  • 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.

The fraudsters are available for contact till the processing charge is paid, but disappear once they receive the money.

  • DARK INTERNET : Some fake schemes do not leave any digital trace on the Internet despite the times we live in.

CASE STUDY

The Gram Vikas Rozgar Yojana is a fake employment scheme.

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.

So, it is not just people’s money but privacy too that is in danger with these fake schemes.

  • 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.

      IASbhai Windup: 

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.

Social media and technology companies design dedicated policies to take action against individuals/groups posting such content intended to cheat the public.

  • 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

 

 

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