NCR belt emerges new cybercrime epicentre

By, Ranchi
May 22, 2023 12:08 AM IST

The highest number of cybercrimes in the country over the last three years originated from Bharatpur district in Rajasthan

The highest number of cybercrimes in the country over the last three years originated from Bharatpur district in Rajasthan. Data obtained from the home ministry indicates that the Mewat region comprising Bharatpur and Alwar in Rajasthan, Mathura district in UP and Nuh in Haryana, has replaced Jamtara in Jharkhand as India’s newest hub for cybercriminals.

HT Image
HT Image

While Bharatpur leads the chart of infamy, Mathura and Nuh are number two and three, respectively. Gurugram in Haryana and Alwar are at number six and seven, respectively. The data shows that 54.1% of total cybercrimes registered in India now originate from this area around the National Capital Region.

Separate from the home ministry data over the three years leading up to March 2023, accessed by HT, the National Crime Records Bureau too registered a sharp spike in the number of cybercrimes. The NCRB data showed that 52,974 cases of cybercrimes were registered in 2021, an increase of 11.8% as compared to the previous year. No cybercrime data for 2022 has been released by the NCRB as yet.

This is the first time the Union home ministry has tried to establish points of origin of cybercrimes and identified the worst 10 spots. This is especially important since very often the victim of cybercrime and the perpetrator are in two different locations separated by hundreds of miles.

Officials who parsed the data said 16% of the cybercrime cases emerged from Bharatpur, followed by Mathura (14%), Nuh (12%) and Jamtara (12%). Cumulatively, these top 10 places identified by the home ministry account for 81% of cybercrimes registered across India.

While the Mewat region, spread across three states, has emerged as a new hub for cybercriminals, it is Jharkhand that remains the single-largest state where 26% of the country’s cybercrimes originate. In addition to Jamtara, enshrined in popular imagination as a haven for cybercriminals, three other districts and one block in the state now feature in the home ministry’s top 10 list. These are, Deoghar with 10% cases, Bokaro with 2.4% cases and Giridih with 2.4%. Karmatand which is an administrative block in Jamtara district is in the ninth place on the list.

Jharkhand is followed by Haryana where 22.1% of all cybercrimes originate while Rajasthan is at the third spot where 20.1% of all cybercrimes originate.

Law enforcers say harsher punishments and public awareness are key in combating rising cases of cybercrimes. “Recently, a court in Deoghar granted life imprisonment to cyber criminals, this was the first such verdict and it created an immediate impact. We analysed data from the national helpline 1930 and the number of calls had dropped considerably in the few days following the conviction,” said S Karthik, superintendent of police, crime investigations department (CID) in Jharkhand.

A burgeoning underground cybercrime and scam landscape is an unwitting side-effect of India’s tech revolution for several reasons. First, not everyone in a country of diverse educational and economic backgrounds is aware of how best to protect themselves, creating a mass of millions of people who can be fooled into sharing their one-time password (OTP) or identity documents.

Second, many of these geographical hot spots are large population centres with inadequate employment — creating the perfect set of circumstances in which many break the law, often to earn a living. Third, law enforcement, especially in tier 2 and 3 cities, is not nimble enough to keep up with new methods of scams, making prevention and investigations difficult.

To protect the gains of India’s tech revolution, these three factors must be addressed, whether by technology design, policy interventions in adjacent problems — such as employment — or police training.

The Nuh district police officials said at least 28,000 cyber fraud cases from across country, involving frauds worth 100 crore, were solved by Nuh police. In all, 1,346 cases were registered against these suspects from Nuh from across the country. “We coordinated with the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre of the union home ministry and requested information on fake bank accounts, SIMs, mobile phones etc. used by the suspects and traced them on the basis of sim cards,” said Varun Singla, superintendent of police, Nuh. He added around 5,000 policemen were involved in carrying out raids in 14 villages and 125 men were arrested.

SP Karthik says people who have been targeted by cybercriminals should use the 1930 helpline. “If the victim reaches the 1930 helpline within the golden hour, it will help us freeze the movement of the money from one account to another. In last one year, this 1930 helpline has helped seize and recover 3 crore.”

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    Vishal Kant works as an Assistant Editor with Hindustan Times. He tracks developments in Aam Aadmi Party and Delhi government. Vishal has spent about a decade covering the city politics and governance, besides writing on Delhi’s civic issues, urban transport and infrastructure.

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