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Beware of Increasing QR Code Fraud

Written by Anuraag Singh ~ Modified: 28-04-2023 ~ Cyber Awareness ~ 5 Minutes Reading

Knowing the adverse effect of covid-19, people these days prefer to use QR codes for transferring money, making payments, buying products and so on. This method is more convenient for users cause it only takes a few seconds to scan the code and make the payment. However, cybercriminals are taking advantage of this digital platform to con people. They are doing so by creating fake QR codes. In fact, this fake QR code fraud is constantly increasing day by day.  

So in this blog, we’ll go over typical scam that is, how phoney QR code fraud takes place, and what to do if you suspect you’ve scanned a harmful QR code. Let’s first discuss what QR codes are.

What are QR Codes?

A QR code is a two-dimensional version of the barcode that a digital device can scan quickly and that contains data as a string of pixels arranged in a grid with square corners. In fact, nowadays many smartphones come equipped with built-in QR readers. 

Uses of QR codes:

  • In marketing and advertising QR codes are often used.
  •  They are typically used to track data about the products in a supply chain. 
  • Recently QR codes have played a crucial role in tracking coronavirus exposure and controlling the virus’s rapid growth. 

 these days cybercriminals are taking advantage of QR codes. 

let’s take a quick look at the real-life example of this scam through which you can understand this fraud.

According to timesofindia.com, a 50-year-old woman lost Rs 41,000 through a QR code scam while she was trying to order food from a restaurant near the Pune railway station. She got the contact number of the restaurant on the Internet and contacted them with the intention of having the food delivered to her house. That suspect described himself as a staff of that restaurant. Afterwards, that fraudster asked her to pay by scanning the QR code. While making payment she lost money of Rs 41,000.

This is how attackers operate this dangerous threat. 

Now in the next subsequent section, we will talk on the topic of how fraudsters carry out this hoax. 

How Do Cybercriminals Succeed in QR Code Frauds?

As far as you know, cybercriminals always prepare a solid attack strategy before beginning. So for this fraud also scammers made a robust plan to succeed it. Let’s have a short look at this.

  1. Online con artists use several methods to trick you and instruct you to scan those fake QR codes.
  2. If you scan that phoney QR code. Which results in access to your bank accounts. Which results in stealing your money. 
  3. Therefore, remember never to scan the QR code that someone gives you on WhatsApp or any other platform.

QR code fraud

This is how scammers operate this scam.

What Happens When You Scan a Fake QR Code?

In the present section, we will be going to discuss that by mistake if you scanned a phoney QR code then how dangerous it could be for you. 

  1. You Can Land on a “Phishing Website”: Scammers create fake websites that closely resemble the original ones. Fraudsters become successful in stealing all the sensitive information through these phoney websites. 
  2.  Malware Can Get Inside Your Device Through Fake QR Code: QR codes have the ability to download harmful software like trojans, spyware, and ransomware onto your devices. These viruses are capable of tracking your movements, stealing your private data (such as images and movies), or even encrypting your device until you pay a “ransom.”

Common Places Where You Can Find Fake QR Codes

Here are various methods through which attackers fulfil their aim of stealing your money. 

  1. Contactless payments and parking metres
  2. Phishing emails ( for surveys, contests, etc.)
  3. In Restaurants, cafes or bars.
  4. Unforeseen shipment delivery
  5. COVID-19 testing facilities 

Warning Signs of QR Code Fraud

Here are some of the warning signs that you can look for for your safety and can stay alert.

  1. If you scan a phoney QR code it will download harmful software or malware to your device.
  2. You will be redirected to a suspicious website. You can notice spelling mistakes, confusing design and an unsecured URL.

While visiting any website you can look for its URL. ( secure websites display a padlock icon next to the URL and Utilise HTTPS rather than HTTP).

How to be Safe From QR Code Fraud?

In the above sections, we discussed all the topics which you need to know, now it’s time to talk about some of the crucial safety tips that you can keep in mind to avoid it. 

  1. Always think twice while scanning any QR code.
  2. Never click on dubious links given in suspicious emails or text messages.
  3. Change your password right away and get in touch with your bank if you observe any unsuspicious activity. 
  4. Yes, it might be challenging to locate the original website when QR codes have abbreviated URLs. In this situation, you may use a legitimate QR scanner to show the URL prior to authorising.
  5. Before downloading any software always look for the reviews and ratings of it.
  6. Make sure you have a scanner app with filters built in if you’re using or contemplating utilising a QR code.
  7. To block hazardous websites on all of your devices, you may install and update security software.
  8. If you fall victim to it you can report the scam to the cyber cell, or you may register an online complaint on the national cybercrime reporting portal cybercrime.gov.in it’s the government’s official website for cybercrimes. 
  9. You can also file a complaint by calling at government’s helpline number 1930.
  10. If you want to increase your level of security you can take expert advice from India’s best cyber expert Anuraag Singh. 


Recently many researchers found that QR code cases are rapidly rising in India. Therefore, it is your responsibility to be caution while scanning any QR code. Also, it’s important to implement safety measures in you daily life to prevent such scams. 

Note: Be updated with the latest cybercrime news.