While the pandemic was going on, people were restricted to their homes, and a lot of us used Twitter spaces as a source of entertainment and a way to pass time.
Though the spaces were entertaining, they did breed a lot of empty vessels. They used these spaces to make a lot of noise and attracted a lot of followers.
And among those empty vessels was Ravi Sutanjani! Why have I decided to write about him? Well, he was a regular on Spaces and I literally saw him gain a good number of followers doing Spaces and posting content on Fintech. Because a lot of what he posted was generic and his tweets were too often on my feed, I muted him. Also, he became friends with a few of my friends. In between, occasionally, I would get to hear about him until a few days ago, something unexpected happened.
It all began with a simple tweet from the anonymous handle "Fraud Disposal Squad" on September 12th. Well, not a simple tweet but an explosive thread. Ravi Sutanjani, who claims to hold multiple degrees, like Computer engineering from IIT Allahabad, Business Administration and Management from HEC Paris, and PGP in business, development, and marketing from MDI Gurugram, turned out to be a mere ITIan from Mirzapur. Please read it again; its ITIan, not IITan. Not diminishing the value of ITI but throwing light on the very audacity. In a later post, SatarkAadmi posted his real ITI degree and wrote, “What did you actually study then? Oh, that was ITI and not IIIT. Trade: Wireman Institute: Govt ITI, Mirzapur Duration: Aug 2014 - Jul 2016
If you want to know more, you can read the whole thread, here.
You might wonder, why should we care about the antics of a single fake influencer. Well, it's about more than just one person. The rise of fake influencers undermines the credibility of social media platforms and the trust we place in digital personalities. It also impacts genuine content creators and influencers who work hard to build authentic relationships with their followers. Moreover, the case of Ravi Sutanjani is a stark example of how misinformation can spread unchecked on social media. Now, because he was a fintech influencer, let me tell you something the fintech way.
Remember the days when inconvenience acted as a natural deterrent to scams? The banker met you in person, as did the charitable fundraiser, and even your second cousin. Inconvenience acted as a gatekeeper, filtering out those who sought to deceive us. But now, in our quest for convenience, we've embraced digital interactions, quick logins, and caller ID. Little did we know that these very tools would become the weapons of choice for scammers.
So, how can you protect yourself and how do you save yourself from getting scammed? Here's a quick checklist to keep in mind:
In the scam era, caller ID is no longer your trustworthy friend. If someone calls you claiming to be from a reputable institution, don't take their word for it. Instead, call them back using the main switchboard number you already have on record. It's a simple but effective way to verify their identity. In a world where impersonation is child's play, skepticism is your best friend.
Scammers are experts at creating urgency through emails. If you receive an urgent email from someone you're not entirely sure about, don't jump to conclusions. Request their phone number and give them a call. Ask questions, probe for details, and scrutinize their responses. Remember, the "sender" field in emails can no longer be trusted. It's a digital age of deception.
The advent of AI has bestowed scammers with the power to impersonate almost anyone convincingly. They can manipulate voices, create lifelike videos, and fabricate digital photographs that seem real. Be wary of any content that seems suspicious or out of character. Verify the source whenever possible, and don't accept anything at face value.
When making online purchases, be cautious of using PayPal's "friends and family" button. It may seem like a quick and easy way to transfer funds, but it offers minimal protection in case of disputes or scams. Opt for the safer payment options, even if they take a few extra clicks. Remember, shortcuts can lead to costly detours.
Gift cards have become the go-to currency for scammers. They're easy to obtain and nearly untraceable. But here's the golden rule: never buy gift cards for someone who reaches out to you unsolicited. If someone asks for gift cards as payment or a favor, consider it a blazing red flag. Scammers love to play on your empathy, so remain vigilant. As we navigate this scam-ridden landscape, one unfortunate consequence is the erosion of trust. Our pursuit of convenience has come at a price, gradually stripping away the bonds of community and our essential human connections. So, what can you do to rebuild trust in this era of deceit? Here are a few strategies:
In the scam era, trust must be earned, not freely given. Whenever possible, verify the identity of the person or organization you're dealing with. Use multiple channels of communication, cross-reference information, and don't hesitate to ask for additional proof.
Knowledge is your greatest defense. Stay informed about the latest scams and tactics used by fraudsters. Educate your friends and family to protect them from falling prey to these schemes. Awareness is the first line of defense.
Just as you maintain personal hygiene to stay healthy, practice digital hygiene to protect your online identity. Use strong, unique passwords, enable two-factor authentication, and regularly update your software and security settings.
If you encounter a scam or suspect fraudulent activity, report it to the relevant authorities or platforms. Your actions can help prevent others from becoming victims. Just like Satark Aadmi did.
While convenience has its merits, don't let it overshadow the value of genuine human connections. Invest time in building real relationships with people and organizations you can trust. In the end, it's our human connections that provide the most reliable safety net.
In a world where a wireman can pose as an IITian and charge a hefty consultation fee, we definitely need to stop putting people on the pedestal and take some time to give them our trust. When it comes to life, just hold on and play it slow, and you will surely play a long innings.
Issac is the author of Something Between Him And Her- His First Kiss and co-author of The Growth Hacking book series. He loves dissecting SaaS tools and writing about SaaS. In his free time, he loves binge-watching Netflix and gorging on books. His BBN Times column will be about content marketing, SaaS, movies, writing, and life. If you want to know more about him, Follow him on Twitter, Instagram and connect with him on LinkedIn.