Update: In an email sent to us, UC Ads team says that it has removed the Ad and is reviewing the ‘advertising mechanism’ that led to this Ad.
“We have removed the mentioned Ad from our platform on an immediate basis and launched an internal review of the advertising mechanism that led to this. User experience and benefit remains our top priority“, writes UC Ads team in its statement.
Earlier: UC Browser is a web browser developed by mobile Internet company UCWeb, which is owned by China’s Alibaba Group. Apart from being an alternative to Google Chrome in its homeland China, the browser is quite popular in India and the company has even claimed that 100 million of its total monthly active users are from India itself.
With such a huge user base and popularity, this web browser is pushing or allowing such ads on its platform that may dupe you of a good amount of money. One such ad scam recently comes into light in which users are being lured with the fake Flipkart sale.
UC Browser Ad Scam
Our founder Abhishek, on Monday morning, quoted one Twitter user’s (@karticrakhra) tweet and pointed out how UC Browser was scamming people using fake display ads.
This is what @UCBrowserIndia is up to, so easy to scam people using fake display ads, I wonder what @UCBrowser do when something like this happens, @Flipkart replied as if it’s their fault, most Chineese phone brand gets money to install it on their phone. https://t.co/f94dKd3Bi0
— Abhishek Bhatnagar (@abhishek) January 20, 2020
In a series of tweets, the user writes how one of his acquaintances was about to get fooled with a fake ad. As per the user, UC Browser showed a display ad offering OPPO F11 Pro smartphone in just Rs. 2,999. Interestingly, the ad was made to look like one from Flipkart.
On clicking that ad, it took the user to a screen where more such deals were displayed. Check out the screenshots below.
You can see the webpage is designed in such a way that any normal person would hardly notice that it is not official Flipkart site. However, looking at the listed prices, it clearly looks like a scam. But again, a not so tech-savvy person would hardly recognize this.
What happens next is more surprising. On clicking ‘Buy Now’, the user is directly taken to the Paytm payment page. Here the user is asked to pay to a business named Agarwal Sweets, which is selling the Apple iPhone 11 in just Rs. 9,990. Funny, isn’t it?
But, it is not funny for a person who does not know this nitty-gritty of apps like Paytm and who may not know much English. Paytm, however, showed a warning that ‘never make any advance payment to any non-trusted merchant’. But then again, how come a person who doesn’t understand the whole scam, will understand this warning.
Fortunately, the mentioned user here did not make any payment as he did not want to use Paytm as a payment method. But suppose if he would have made the payment.
UC Browser Ads
UCWeb has launched its mobile marketing platform UC Ads in India back in 2017. Since then, businesses in domains like e-commerce, online travel agents, automobile, entertainment, IT, as well as other SMEs can display their ads on the UC browser.
As per the company, their UC Ads platform has even piloted marketing solutions with companies like Vivo and OnePlus. But now, looking at such ads, it looks like the company isn’t properly reviewing their clients’ ad and approving them just like that.
What you should do?
First of all, you should not use such browsers when Chrome is already coming installed on your phones. However, if you still want to use UC Browser for some reason, you should know that UC Browser comes pre-loaded with an ad blocker."Beware: This UC Browser Ad Scam Can Dupe You of Thousands of Rupees [Update: Official Statement]",