Travellers beware: 'Hard cash for UPI' scam on the rise, 'transfer an amount' requests from strangers could be risky

Representational photo.
Scamsters who target well-meaning tourists and pilgrims are thriving in busy temples, pilgrim centres, parking lots, ATMs and more. Photo: Shutterstock

'Excuse me sir, could you transfer me Rs 1,000 via UPI? I will give you the amount in cash, just need the money for an emergency.'

Has anyone approached you with such a request recently, at busy railway stations, crowded places of worship, tourist spots, restaurants, or while travelling? If you are in the habit of obliging to such requests without a second thought, beware. You might get victimised in a 'hard cash for UPI payment' scam that is gaining ground these days, targeting compassionate strangers. As per reports, scamsters who target well-meaning tourists and pilgrims are thriving in busy temples, pilgrim centres, parking lots, ATMs and more.

A few people who experienced the scam say that it is executed shrewdly. “They spot people who are busy and will want to get rid of them somehow, obliging to the request. If they ask for a Rs 1,000 payment via Gpay, they will give you the same amount as cash but some of the notes will be counterfeit currencies. If at all we realise it and get back to them, they will easily excuse themselves saying, 'I didn't know it was a fake note. If so, why would I give you real notes alongside them?' It's best to ignore the requests and carry on, or be cautious, the least,” says Arun*, who encountered such a request in Kochi, recently. A few months ago, similar scams were reported in Delhi as well. Meanwhile, authorities say that no such case has been registered so far in Kerala.

A few months ago, the Ministry of Finance revealed that more than 95,000 fraud cases linked to UPI transactions were recorded in 2022-23. It is an increase from 84,000 incidents in 2021-22.

To stay safe from UPI scams:
Make sure you think twice before helping strangers with related requests.
Do not share your UPI ID with anyone. The access to it can let scamsters swipe money from your account.
Change your PIN regularly.
Do not access public wifi for UPI payments as this might let hackers access your data.
(*Name changed on request)

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