Mumbai: Obscene messages, debit card frauds top list of crimes

  • Vijay Kumar Yadav, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Nov 10, 2014 22:18 IST

Sending obscene e-mails, text messages, MMSes, abusive posts, and credit or debit card frauds top the list of cybercrimes in Mumbai.

Around 104 cases of obscenity and 103 cases of credit or debit card fraud have been reported till October, compared with 28 and 27 cases respectively last year.

“Earlier people used to fight in public. Now, they do it over the phone through messengers and social networking sites,” said Vijay Mukhi, a cyber expert. “There is a notion that it is ok to abuse people on messenger groups, Facebook and Twitter. Also, there is no fear of law,” he said.

According to Mukhi, most cases of defamation on social media, where the two parties are from well-to-do backgrounds, the dispute is settled before reaching the police station.

Financial frauds such as phishing, hacking, tempering source code, corporate-company cyber-crime, infecting system, defacement, too, have gone up. “Most of the cases don’t get reported. When debit or credit card frauds are reported, banks repay the loss to the customers, but refrain from filing a criminal complaint,” said Mukhi.

Mahalaxmi resident and IT firm director Abhay Kimmatkar, who lost Rs 64,435 to online shopping in China as fraudsters used his debit card data, said, “Very few banks conduct customer spending analytics. The analysis would ensure that any irregular transaction in the customer’s spending pattern is brought to the customer’s notice. This could help prevent a possible fraud. The Reserve Bank of India should make it mandatory for all banks.”

Europe has standardized all PIN-based cards, making it difficult to clone a chip card, said Mukhi.

“There is no chip card for ATM and the security features, too, are very poor, thus helping robbers. With more people using netbanking facility, such cases are bound to rise,” he said.

Case study

6 months on, no leads in ‘masked gang’ case
The credit/debit card cloning gang, whose members stole ATM card data from three kiosks in Agripada, Parel and Bhandup wearing surgical masks and used the data to cheat 73 people of Rs17 lakh, is yet to be traced.

HT had, in April, reported about the gang. For three days, the fraudsters installed skimmers and hidden cameras in the ATMs of unguarded kiosks in the afternoon and uninstalled it at night. They then used the data to make cloned cards and withdraw money from ATM kiosks in Thane and Kalyan.

Earlier, the Agripada police, Kalachowkie police and Bhandup police were investigating the case. However, taking the enormity of the scam into account, crime branch chief Sadanand Date asked unit-8 officials to investigate the case. The unit registered a separate FIR and initiated a probe, but failed to crack it.

A crime branch official said the fraudsters are part of an organized gang. “They used to travel in taxis and put on surgical masks and wear baseball caps before stepping out, to ensure their identity is not disclosed,” the officer said.

“The CCTV grab at the ATM kiosk near the income tax building in Parel showed a masked man fitting the skimmer and hidden camera in the machine. Later, his partner entered the kiosk to check if the skimmers and cameras were fitted correctly,” said a sub-inspector at the Kalachowky police station.

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