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Cashing out cashback for vaccination: How to trick Ukraine's system?

Author : Anna Peshkova

Source : 112 Ukraine

The Ukrainians have already filed more than 500,000 applications for the payment of one thousand hryvnias (40 USD) for vaccination
22:05, 21 December 2021

Segodnya

Not every one of the half a million operational citizens will enjoy movie sessions or exercise on simulators. As soon as the Ukrainians finally got the opportunity to spend the funds allocated by the state, offers to purchase assistance from Zelensky "at a discount" began to appear on the network.

When the president announced that every vaccinated Ukrainian would receive 40 USD from the state on a special card, practically no one had any doubts that many enterprising citizens would try to use these funds for other purposes. They didn't have to wait long: the Ukrainians are offering to sell these "e-support" cards in order to buy books, cinema tickets and train tickets at a "discount". We were convinced of the feasibility of such a possibility in practice.

Related: Vaccines not to stop Covid-19 pandemic - BioNTech CEO

Books with a discount of -40%

From the moment when the first such announcements appeared, the employees blocked them quite quickly. All kinds of search queries on the topic "Numerous thousand" do not return any results. Still, some of the earlier proposals were still available via the link.

The author of the ad, offers to purchase any product or service from the list guaranteed by the program with a 40% discount. The user has been registered on the OLX website since January 2021. He himself writes that he is in the city of Novodnistrovsk (Chernivtsi region).

"For example, you want to buy a gym membership for 40 USD. I suggest that I would buy it for you, but for 22 USD."

Moreover, the ad indicates the possibility of bargaining.

Around the "e-support" fraudsters have already become more active, who, under the guise of the Ministry of Health, stole the data of "social cards" from Ukrainians. We decided to check the author of the ad for good faith. And they did not lose.

Initially, the author of the message suggested sending promotional codes or certificates "in any convenient way."

"I just want to cash out money for my needs," wrote the interlocutor.

This could be a basic "send me a prepayment and then I will do my side of the deal" scam. However, the user suggested a scheme that would suit the buyer of such a non-standard "service" in the first place. This is not least due to the specifics of our chosen product - books. The author of the advertisement offered to first pay for half of our goods and only after that he wait for the accrual of 60% of the amount spent on his main bank card.

Absolutely all bookstores are suitable for the implementation of assistance under the e-support program. However, not all goods can be paid with a "social card", but only those that are in stock. If the goods need to be transported from the warehouse, then it will be possible to pay for it using a "social card" only at the moment when it reaches the store. Fortunately, in the bookstore we have chosen, interesting versions of literature were still available. A few clicks - and now the complete works of Edgar Allan Poe are waiting for payment using "e-support". The user kindly sends us her data: number, release date and updated CVV code.

Related: Ukraine made contracts with Pfizer, MSD for purchase of pills against Covid, - minister

An unscrupulous buyer could simply "throw" the seller at this stage. But we, of course, did not do that. A product that would have cost 22 USD including delivery cost 12 USD. That is how much we sent the seller of the new "service" to his personal account in "Monobank". The name of the recipient coincided with the data of the author of the advertisement on the OLX.

With the second purchase, everything is more complicated. The websites of the largest bookstores began to work closer to lunchtime, with varying degrees of success, pages loaded much slower than usual, apparently due to increased demand. Both I and my interlocutor have gained patience - and finally the bestseller "Shantaram" has been paid for.

This time, online payment required not only confirmation of the cardholder in his personal account, but also an otp-password (a code sent to the cardholder in an SMS message). This should have saved the user of the hacked "e-support", because already the second payment was made from a third-party device. The user also named this code in the chat.

While the seller and I were turning the second part of the deal, his ad was banned on the OLH. Nevertheless, the correspondence continued without problems.

In total, we made a purchase for 33 USD for 20 USD, having overpaid for the cost of delivery (two orders were made instead of one). I must say that some bookstores have already begun to offer certificates for a thousand hryvnia, which make it possible to make a purchase for 51 USD.

The balance of funds on the "social card" of the citizen amounted to 4 USD more. Our interlocutor suggested, "write if you think of how to use them." The question is quite natural, because if he does not spend them, the funds will return to the state budget.

Related: Ukraine signs agreement with Pfizer on purchasing conditions of Paxlovid Covid pills

It is difficult to buy goods for exactly 40 USD including delivery. But such a situation could have been avoided by purchasing goods worth more than 4o USD. The seller could split the amount into several parts. In this case, the balance would have to be paid with another card.

However, the author of the announcement is not too upset with the current situation and is ready to connect us with his friends, who would also prefer to receive "real" money from the state.

Is this "cashing" of funds legal?

The author of the advertisement could buy books in a store and send us by mail (if we had confidence in him, of course), sell them on the market, present them on New Year's holidays. But the answer to the question of whether it is legal to transfer card data to third parties is not so clear-cut.

"We urge you not to be fooled by the actions of fraudsters who will offer to spend money in other places or convert money from a card into cash. The cyber police will closely monitor all suspicious situations and payments," the ministry said.

At the same time, lawyer Rostyslav Kravets calls the scheme described by us legitimate.

"It's too early to say that this is illegal. A person simply freely disposes of the right that the state offers him. Among the conditions of this program, as far as I know, there is no prohibition on the transfer of the right to use funds to someone else. Therefore, in fact, such sales and, accordingly, purchases, in my opinion, they do not go beyond the scope of the law," says the lawyer in a commentary.

Why, then, does the site block such ads? The lawyer sees the reasons in the possible political persecution of the business.

"Business does not want to have claims against itself from the authorities, does not want the veterinarian (the lawyer alludes to NSDC secretary Oleksiy Danilov, - ed.) to get angry and impose sanctions. Some announcement can be destroyed for a thousand hryvnias. a whole business," Kravets shares his opinion.

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So in this case, rather, there are possible risks for the buyer in the event that he is faced with an unscrupulous seller. In addition to fraudulent prepayment, it is possible for the seller to challenge the debiting of funds from the card. With the appropriate statement, he can apply directly to the business providing the service. In our case, to the bookstore. However, the owner of the card is unlikely to be able to request a refund, given that he does not know either the order number or the phone number from which it was made. The seller twice offered us to talk by phone, sent his number, but we refused to contact in this way and provide personal information.

Ukrainians need "live" money

Most likely, we should expect an increase in the number of such cases. Although such advertisements on free classifieds sites are blocked, enterprising Ukrainians may well post them on telegram channels for a part-time job or sell tickets already purchased for running performances and film screenings. People need money for groceries that are getting more expensive before our very eyes, to pay for a sky-high winter communal apartment. They are ready to lose 40% of the gift from the president, just to manage the money the way they want. And to blame them, saying that they do not want to be enlightened and culturally enriched, is at least stupid.

We have already wondered why not offer the Ukrainians the opportunity to at least give out an "antique suitcase" with masks, antiseptics, vitamins. The government will nevertheless add the ability to spend money on medicines, but only from the new year and for those who have reached the age of 60. Why officials think only 60-year-olds need drugs is a mystery. After all, such a waste of funds might seem to many to be a reasonable option, perhaps even more profitable than selling "e-support" to other citizens.

In the current paradigm, everything indicates that museums will mainly be visited by those who already have the financial resources for this.

“I believe that we have such a small number of regular book buyers that most of them will continue to spend regardless of its existence,” writes the owner of the Folio publishing house Oleksandr Krasovytsky on his social network page.

Related: Physicians and public utilities: Ukraine expands list of professions for mandatory Covid vaccination from January 20

Those who want to drink or play the funds accrued by the state will also find ways to do this. Some vaccinated citizens already manage to buy beer in cinemas with the "e-support" card. The thing is that in some companies, goods that are not related to culture and entertainment make their way through the codes of just such categories. This example only proves that the restriction on the method of spending these funds does not work.

The only plus in this situation is, perhaps, only for the business, because it does not matter for him who exactly makes the payment. According to Krasovytsky, if 10% of the funds from the program go to books, publishers will hardly be able to provide the required amount. If it is 25%, the sphere may collapse altogether.

By the way, Kravets expects manipulation with “Zelensky’s thousand” and from the side of the business itself.

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