GOVERNMENT BENEFITS FRAUD
An independent research reveals that Aadhaar has been used for a wide range of purposes – carrying out land transfers, procuring passports, getting loans, casting votes, obtaining other IDs, siphoning off ration grains, etc. These include cases of ‘identity theft’ – Aadhaar details of persons have been altered, or Aadhaar details have been forged by changing the photographs and names and taking scans. The genuine holders of Aadhaar have subsequently found themselves in a soup when they were told that loans in their name were not honoured or land transfers in their name were carried out without consent. Such instances are especially striking given that identity theft is precisely what Aadhaar was supposed to fix.
In the first six years since the launch of the Aadhaar programme in September 2011, 164 cases of forged or fake Aadhaar numbers and Aadhaar-related banking frauds have been reported in the English-language media, the database noted. These include 123 cases of fake or forged Aadhaar numbers or cards and 41 cases of Aadhaar-related banking fraud. In addition to the cases of forgery and fakes, 17 cases of Aadhaar-enabled banking frauds were compiled by an independent researcher. In a country with low financial and technological literacy, it is easy for people to fall prey to various types of frauds, especially phishing scams.
A member of parliament recently lost Rs 27,000 after revealing an Aadhaar one-time-password (OTP) to fraudsters over the phone. In another instance, con-men tricked persons on the pretext of linking their Aadhaar to their PAN (issued by the income-tax department for tracking financial transactions) into revealing an OTP which was then used to change the linked-mobile number in the Aadhaar database. Such instances highlight the need for authorities to raise awareness about how to use Aadhaar and clarify what information is not supposed to be shared.