Do not fall for fake COVID-19 relief schemes, warns government
The spread of COVID-19 - the worst public health crisis of our time - has triggered a wave of misinformation around the world. Authorities in India have been warning about this for months, and now, they are raising alarms over certain "relief schemes" scammers are running to con money and information out people scared of the pandemic. Here's all you need to know.
Warnings from PIB Fact Check
Over the last few days, PIB Fact Check, the official fact-checking Twitter handle run by the government's Press Information Bureau, has warned about three fake "yojanas" being promoted via social media platforms and text messages. It said that the 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.
PM Mask Yojana
The first scheme flagged by PIB goes by the name of "PM Mask Yojana" and claims that the Centre is offering free masks to the public. It has been going viral with a link to order masks, but the fact-checking handle has explicitly clarified that the URL (now unavailable) is fraudulent and there is no such scheme at the moment.
Rashtriya Sikshit Berojgar Yojana
Next, PIB warned about the Rashtriya Sikshit Berojgar Yojana. This scheme promises Rs. 50,000 "relief package" to 40,000 daily laborers, unemployed people, widows, farmers, and senior citizens, and requests them to register on a website. However, in this case, too, PIB emphasized that there is no such relief package from the government and the site is aimed at "collecting your info/fee".
Scholarship to study from home
Finally, PIB warned about a fake WhatsApp message that claims the government is offering Rs. 4,000 "scholarship" to help students between Classes 5-12 learn digitally from their homes. However, in reality, the Bureau said the government is providing no such scholarship to help students study, and the Google Form attached in that WhatsApp message is aimed at mining personal information of young teenagers.