If you are planning to participate in the online lottery for Mhada’s affordable houses, make sure you visit the authentic website.
Personal information of many city residents is likely to be at risk, as the Maharashtra Housing Area Development Authority (Mhada) officials have come across a fake website created in the housing agency’s name by cybercriminals.
A complaint has been lodged with the BKC Cyber police, who believe it to be the handiwork of data stealing groups, a source told HT.
People who steal people’s personal information and sell it for money are called data stealers or data vendors.
On April 13, officials of Mhada, whose authentic website for housing lottery is https://lottery.mhada.gov.in, learnt of another website – www.mhadalottery2015.in –operating under its name, said the police.
The website used Mhada’s logo and was presented as the housing agency’s second online portal. It had details of the lottery and the houses on offer, while the official announcement for it was made only on April 15.
“Mhada officials immediately informed the police and a case was registered on Sunday,” said Dhananjay Kulkarni, Mumbai police spokesperson and deputy commissioner of police.
The website has not been blocked yet.
“We have initiated the process to get the unauthorised portal blocked,” said Nandkishor More, assistant commissioner of police (Cyber division). “We have sought details from the domain service provider about the person who bought the domain.”
The fake site has options such as apply online, application form, flat details, eligibility criteria, important dates, among others. The accused have linked the apply online button of the site to Mhada’s official page.
Lottery applicants have to register with Mhada by sharing their email IDs, pan card details and a photo. The fake website has two options - ‘eligibility criteria and ask a question’. In the eligibility criteria option, fraudsters would ask people to share details such as date of birth, annual income, type of house they want, source of income, area where they looking for a home, banks in which they have accounts, contact details, and address details.
“Such detailed data of potential home buyers has a high demand in the real estate market. The fraudsters who have created the website can sell this data to real estate firms for a bomb. The firms can contact people who are looking for affordable houses, as they already know their requirements, and pitch their projects,” said an officer from BKC cyber police station.
The fake website has a contact number – 9869988000 – and an email ID.
“We are trying to get details of the number and the e-mail ID,” Kulkarni said. Sources said that these contact options were registered with the service providers under the name Mhada.
Police are also probing if the fraudsters intended to divert the online money transfer for the lottery to other unauthorised bank accounts.