A hoax message is going viral on WhatsApp and social media asking people to click on a link to apply for the Pradhan Mantri Sukanya Samriddhi Yojana. The message claims that girls of the age 1-18 shall receive a cheque worth Rs 10,000 for free. The message also claims that the last date to apply for the scheme is August 15, Independence Day and asks people to forward it to friends as well.
The message reads,
प्रधानमंत्री बालिका सम्रद्धि योजना 2018
प्रधानमंत्री द्वारा 1 से 18 साल की बालिकाओ की निःशुल्क 10 हजार का चैक दिया जा रहा है। बालिकाओं के भविष्य के लिए इस योजनाको चालू किया गया है ।
आवेदन करने की अंतिम तिथि 15 अगस्त है तो जल्दी करें और इस मैसेज को अपने सभी दोस्तों भेजें ताकि इस योजना का लाभ सभी को मिल सके
अभी आवेदन करें
The message is the latest hoax about government schemes in the name of the Prime Minister. Similar hoaxes were viral on WhatsApp last month claiming free distribution of bicycles and school bags. Read BOOM’s story here.
At first look, it appears the message is referring to the existing Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme. It is a savings account scheme for girls and does not have any provisions to give a cheque worth Rs 10,000 for free. Under the scheme, parents or guardian can start a Sukanya Samriddhi account for girl children below the age of 10 at a post office branch or designated public sector banks.
The Sukanya Samriddhi Account Scheme was launched in 2015 along with the Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao initiative by the Narendra Modi led BJP government. Parents can deposit an amount ranging from Rs 250 to Rs 1,50,000 on an annual basis and the account will remain active for 21 years from the date of opening. The scheme offers full tax exemption on the deposit amount, proceeds and maturity amount.
The link (https://sukanya-yojna.m-indian-gov.in/) in the message directs you to an application form which has the logo of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao scheme and the Prime Minister’s photo.
The page also has advertisements, as seen below, out of which the owner of the website must be generating revenue. The more people visit the website the more they earn. This could also explain the purpose of creating the website.
Upon submitting the form, you are asked to share the message with 10 other people on WhatsApp to complete verification.
The About Us link leads to a page with a disclaimer that the website is not associated with the Government of India nor are they collecting any information from the user. It says that the the purpose of creating the website is to raise awareness about the scheme.
What do we know of the website?
BOOM checked the url, https://sukanya-yojna.m-indian-gov.in/ on Whois.com to find that the website was created recently on August 6, 2018 and registered in Maharashtra. However, information on who owns the website and contact details are not available.
To sound like a government website, the domain name ends with gov.in. However, the registrar is GoDaddy.com while all government websites, either ending with nic.in or gov.in, have National Informatic Centre as the registrar. Click here and here for examples.
The exif data of the image used on top also shows that it was created recently.
How is the message similar to past hoaxes on government schemes?
Like the previous messages which promised free bicycles and school bags, the current one also follows the same format of offering something free and ask people to forward the message so that many can avail the scheme.
All the three messages urge people to sign up for the scheme by referring to a date. In the first case the deadline was July 15, while the second message claimed that cycles will be distributed on August 15 and the 3rd one related to the girl child says the deadline is August 15.
All of them ask people to click on the link and leads to a website which has the photo of Prime Minister Modi on it. At present, the second website is taken down. Click here to read our story on the previous two messages.