The Indian National Congress finds itself mired in controversy once again, as its ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign, launched last month, takes an embarrassing turn. In a major blunder, the party inadvertently promoted a fake website through a special pamphlet released on January 10, 2024, ahead of Rahul Gandhi’s upcoming ‘Bharat Nyay Yatra.’
The pamphlet, aimed at soliciting donations, included a QR code and URL for the ‘Donate for Desh’ website.
However, both the QR code and URL were erroneous. While the official campaign’s URL is donateinc.in, the pamphlet displayed donateinc.co.in, leading unsuspecting donors to a fraudulent website closely mimicking the Congress’s official crowdfunding platform.
Remarkably, the fake website, still active, mirrors the text, images, and style of the authentic Congress website. This deliberate replication aims to deceive donors into believing their contributions are going to the Congress party, when in reality, the funds are channelled to unknown entities. The sham website exclusively accepts donations via UPI apps.
Due to the Congress party’s endorsement of the QR code and URL in an official document, users may not readily discern the website’s illegitimacy, assuming it to be authentic. It is only during the transaction’s final stages that an alert user might notice the redirection of funds to an unfamiliar source.
Images reveal the deceptive nature of the website, where, on Google Pay, the top message assures payment to the ‘Indian National Congress,’ while the banking name below reveals the scam, identifying it as “Roj Cash.”
Media reports indicate that Congress has incurred substantial financial losses due to this error, with reports suggesting that several lakhs of rupees have already been siphoned away by the scam.
While a simple Google search reveals the existence of apps named “Roj Cash,” offering monetary rewards for downloads and activities, it remains uncertain whether the creators of such apps are linked to the fraudulent website targeting Congress supporters. What is certain is that this is an outright scam, resulting in financial losses for numerous Congress supporters.
Notably, the Congress party has not expressed the same level of concern and outrage over these deceptive websites as it did during the launch of the campaign when it failed to secure domains like donatefordesh.org and donatefordesh.com.
Publicly available information indicates that the fake website was registered on December 19, 2023, just a day after the official launch of the ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign. Despite the clear indication of deliberate fraud, the Congress party has not announced any intention to file a police complaint against the perpetrators. Questions also linger regarding how the party included the address of a fraudulent website in its official campaign document. As the controversy unfolds, the Congress party faces mounting criticism for its handling of the ‘Donate for Desh’ campaign and its failure to safeguard donor contributions from scams.