Last updated on April 19, 2024

Names and places mentioned herein are hypothetical.

Sithumi got a message on WhatsApp from a foreign number claiming to be a digital marketing agency, saying she got a job online. They said that they got her number from a job website. Sithumi thought it was a good chance to earn money from home, so she asked for more details.

Sithumi : What do I do in this job?

The Agent: We’ll send you a link. Click on it. It takes you to IMDb ratings. Choose a movie and select either “already watched” or “need to watch”, then send us a screenshot. You get Rs.150/- for each screenshot. When you send three, you get Rs.450/- in your account. Let’s do a test. Click on this link xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Sithumi : OK

She clicked as told. The test worked, and she joined a Telegram group created by the agency. People in the group shared screenshots of payments they received. Sithumi felt confident and sent three screenshots initially and got paid. She kept doing this and getting paid.

The Agent: : You’re doing great. We’ll add you to a VIP group with a new task. Click on the link we send. Buy a product. If it’s Rs.5000/-, we’ll pay you Rs.6500/-.

Sithumi joined the group. People bought goods worth 10-15 lakhs, getting more money than the goods’ value. Sithumi also bought a Rs.5000/- item and got paid. She was happy.

Then she bought a product for Rs.32000/-, but didn’t get paid. She asked about it.

The Agent: : There’s an error. Buy another Rs.32000/- item. We’ll pay after.

Sithumi bought it, but wasn’t paid this time either. She asked why again.

The Agent: : You haven’t followed instructions properly. Buy two Rs.32000/- items at once or buy an item of Rs.93,000/-. Read instructions.

Sithumi had money since she took a loan recently. She bought the Rs.93,000/- item to get paid as the agent instructed. But she wasn’t paid again. The agent only kept pushing her to buy the expensive goods to earn.

The Agent: : You didn’t read instructions right. Buy another Rs.93,000/- item. We’ll pay Rs.500,000/-.

At this point, Sithumi realized she was being tricked and stopped. She lost a lot of money, so she called Hithawathi, as her husband requested, for support.

Sithumi told her story to Hithawathi, who explained about scams happening via WhatsApp and Telegram. Hithawathi instructed her about the options of reporting the agency on WhatsApp / Telegram and lodging a complaint at Computer Crime Investigation Division (CCID) of Criminal Investigation Department (CID).

Sithumi thanked Hithawathi for listening and guiding her on what to do.


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