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J&K ‘money scam’ demands stronger regulation, financial literacy

Ziraat Times Editorial Board

Hundreds of people are said to have lost their money in J&K to a shady ‘double-your-money’ private financial scheme in recent weeks. At the centre of the controversy is a little known company namely Curative Survey Pvt Ltd, which had  introduced some financial scheme to the general public, offering to double their money in a short period of time. While the relevant government agencies are investigsting the public complaints, and are also looking deeper into the legality of the modus operandi and legal  compliances of the company, as part of responsible media it is imperative that institutions like Ziraat Times also shares its preliminary views onnthe matter.
The disclosures made last week about what is being presented as a scam necessitate an informed public debate as well as a serious governmental investigation.

As per the information made public so far, prima facie, it appears that the company has exploited several loopholes and vulnerabilities in public regulatory systems as well as low financial literacy and economic desperation among common people. The first thing that such companies seem to do is carefully choose the locations and target communities experiencing economic hardship or limited access to financial resources. What is also clear is that there is limited financial education among vast sections ofnthe masses in J&K. Many individuals, seem to lack basic financial knowledge and awareness of common scams. The promise of unrealistic financial returns seems to have overridden caution and judgment, especially for those struggling financially. The financial scheme seems to have been designed in such a careful manner that a public perception was created wherein a large number of people was seen investing and praising the scheme and creating a sense of “missing out” and pressure to participate.

Empowering communities with basic financial knowledge and scam awareness can help prevent future exploitation. Similarly, stricter regulations and vigilant scrutiny of companies may also be needed to make it harder for scamsters to operate. Public awareness campaigns and sharing victim stories would also help deter potential investors and expose perpetrators. In this particular case, it seems that a large population did not employ critical thinking and skepticism before putting their money into this scheme. In popular  public discourse it is important to encouraging a healthy skepticism towards unrealistic promises and thorough investigation before any investment. However, that is not the responsibility of the government alone. It is imperative for thought leaders, social activists and religious figures to talk about such issues and try to create a safer financial environment.

Both public and private institutions  need also to collaborate with educational institutions and community organizations to provide basic financial literacy workshops and resources, equipping citizens with essential knowledge for responsible financial decisions. What is also needed to prevent future scams is inter-agency cooperation. There is a case to build stronger collaboration among law enforcement agencies, financial institutions, and regulators to share information, track financial dealings across jurisdictions, and coordinate enforcement efforts. That would act as a strong deterrent for the future.

The role of social media content creators has also come into focus in this current case. It is important for any commercial social media content to be labeled as such. Social media regulations must require influencers to clearly and prominently disclose any paid promotional content, using unambiguous labels like “sponsored” or “ad.” This would help viewers differentiate genuine recommendations from paid endorsements. Similarly, there is a need for stronger disclosure guidelines. We must develop robust social media content creater  disclosure guidelines, outlining the level of detail required for different types of endorsements and the consequences of non-compliance.

It is important to remember that anyone can fall victim to a scam, regardless of social background or financial status. Vigilance, sound knowledge and seeking reliable financial advice are key to protecting oneself from such fraudulent schemes.

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