1,875 cybercrimes reported in Thane since March: Police data
With more than 1,800 cases of cyber-crimes being registered in Thane police commissionerate since March this year, the cyber cell has claimed that there has being around 20 to 30 per cent increase in the number of cases in the lockdown compared to last year.
While the crimes of thefts and house break-ins have decreased, cyber-crimes related to phishing and vishing scams are on the rise, claimed the police department.
The Thane cyber cell has registered 1,875 cases under the cyber laws apart from which the department also has received thousands of phone calls with complaints that were not even registered in the past six months. Last year, the number was comparatively less by around 30 per cent.
The police claimed that despite constant awareness, with most people staying at home and using net banking, digital modes of payments or shopping, most of them easily click on unknown links or fall prey to telecallers who convince them to share their details.
Vivek Phansalkar, police commissioner of Thane, said, “Citizens should not deal with unknown persons and entities online; protect own data passwords, etc. fiercely, cross check, double check before transferring money and use only safe recommended apps for online payments. Do not copy paste the passwords or any important keywords.”
Thane cyber police have been taking several awareness campaigns since last year and have been doing online awareness programmes since lockdown has started.
Additional police commissioner (crime), Pravin Pawar, said, “Most people extensively use social media as they are at home over the last few weeks. The cyber criminals have found several innovative ideas to attract these net savvy people and rob them of their hard-earned money. Most frauds happen when people click on unknown links on social media or shop from unknown sites. Every week, there are complaints of various innovative phishing frauds, targeting gullible people.”
KYC upgradation common fraud
One of the most common frauds is the KYC upgradation. Here, most consumers receive call from the fraudsters posing to be from any of the popular digital payment portals asking consumers to update their KYC or they won’t be able to use the application.
With most people paying through digital getaways to avoid cash exchange in pandemic, they inadvertently fall prey to these calls, said Patil.
Assistant police commissioner, cyber cell, Sardar Patil, added, “The callers then ask the consumers to download a few desktop sharing applications, thus getting access to their phones or laptops, downloading all personal account information.
“The second fraud is about the sending messages about free Covid-19 tests or concessions in the tests. The accused would call or send a message to register for the Covid test, along with a link to be filled requiring bank account details and later withdraw money from the account.
“Another common fraud is also over updating the insurance policies. A few fake mobile applications that claimed to check people’s oxymeter also get details on fingerprints and other data to siphon off money.”
People also used the pandemic to appeal to people to pay money for those requiring Covid treatment through social networking sites.
An officer from cyber cell who did not wish to be named said, “When the online sale of alcohol was permitted, people received messages and numbers from the shops in their localities. Most of these numbers were fake and after people paid for the alcohol, no delivery was made. We got several such complaints in a month once the sale of liquor started.”
People being duped on dating or matrimonial applications are also a common modus operandi in the lockdown period.
Police creating awareness
Patil added, “We have tried to create awareness among people throughout the pandemic on these different types of frauds. There were 1,875 cases registered in Debit/credit card fraud, card cloning, OTP share, job fraud, online shopping fraud, social media-related fraud. People should not click on any random links. Keeping a strong secret password is also one of the important factors. If anyone gets a SIM card-related call or insurance policy details related call, people should call the authentic person for the same, or authentic helpline of that policy which is mentioned on your documents.”
He added that if a person is helping any friend who has sent a message on Facebook, call or video call the person before sending money.