A viral message claiming the government is distributing free masks under a new scheme is fake.
The message which asks users to fill up personal data on a dubious website, is being shared as a new scheme launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi to distribute free masks and control the outbreak of COVID-19.
The message in Hindi claims one can avail free masks if one fills up a form available on a site 'narendrmodiawasyojna.in'
BOOM received the forward on its WhatsApp helpline number (7700906111) inquiring about its veracity.
The WhatsApp message states the following.
"Due to the rising outbreak of Karona virus, our Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi has decided to give Karona virus masks free to all under Swachh Bharat, you can also order by clicking the link below and become part of Swachh Bharat."
(In Hindi - "करोना वायरस के बढ़ते प्रकोप से हमारे प्रधानमंत्री श्री नरेंद्र मोदी जी ने सवच्छ भारत के अंतर्गत सभी भर्तीओ को करोना वायरस मुक्त माक्स फ्री में देने का फैसला किया है आप भी निचे लिंक पर क्लिक करके अपना फ्री माक्स ऑर्डर करके पहनिए और सवच्छ भारत का हिस्सा बनिए।")
Viral on Facebook
We searched on Facebook and found it being shared with the same false claim.
Click here to view
Also Read:Can A Mask Kill A Virus? A FactCheck
The URL mentioned in the message has several red flags that give it away as a suspicious website. The site asks users to enter their personal details such as name, phone number, address and pin code.
Additionally, government websites end with '.gov.in' or '.nic' and there have been no recent announcements made by the government on the distribution of free masks under Swachh Bharat Abhiyan.
On scrolling down, it is mentioned that the offer is only valid till March 15, 2020, unlike a government scheme.
While the website has included a picture of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, his name has been spelled wrong - 'Narendr Nodi'.
After filling details, users are prompted to share the message to 10 WhatsApp groups which are also a common modus operandi used by fraudulent websites to collect personal details.
A message pops up which when translated reads, "Thank you for joining the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan, for ordering your free mask and for promoting the party, you have to send this offer to your 5 friends or group by pressing the green button below, and press on order now button, your mail will be delivered to your given address in 2 days."
The site in its Terms and Privacy claims that it is a prank but says the site is to be sent to make people more"web friendly".
However, it is not clear what the site plans to do with the data being collected. This resembles techniques used by phishing sites that collect data aim of the site is to harvest personal details such as name and contact numbers.
BOOM has previously debunked such messages that promised free government schemes that were hosted on phishing websites Read the detailed story below.
The message is viral with false claims in the backdrop of India confirming 125 positive cases of COVID-19 as of March 17, 2020. One can follow BOOM's LIVE blog for recent updates: Coronavirus LIVE Update: Mumbai Records First Death, India's Third
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