2020: Number of cybercrimes double in Pune, surpass criminal offences - Hindustan Times
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2020: Number of cybercrimes double in Pune, surpass criminal offences

ByNadeem Inamdar
Dec 31, 2020 04:02 PM IST

Among the rising number of cybercrimes, online cybercrimes reported the largest number of incidents while crimes happening through social media platforms also formed a major chunk of crimes after online fraud

The number of cybercrimes committed this year in Pune has doubled to 13,793 crimes from 7,795 in 2019, even surpassing criminal offences. And, with only a single police station to handle the cases, it’s a heavy strain on the city police.

The statistics reveal that the serious crimes like murder, fights, armed thefts and house break-in incident were more in number, the previous year but cybercrimes have taken over in 2020.(REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)
The statistics reveal that the serious crimes like murder, fights, armed thefts and house break-in incident were more in number, the previous year but cybercrimes have taken over in 2020.(REPRESENTATIVE PHOTO)

Also, the delay in response from social media companies affects investigations giving some leeway to the accused. The rising number of cases have been reported during the Covid-19 lockdown and post lockdown period during the last 11 months. Among the rising number of cybercrimes, online cybercrimes reported the largest number of incidents while crimes happening through social media platforms also formed a major chunk of crimes after online fraud.

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The statistics reveal that the serious crimes like murder, fights, armed thefts and house break-in incident were more in number, the previous year but cybercrimes have taken over in 2020.

The serious crime incidents were at 5,265 incidents during 2020 when compared with 8,677 which show over a 20 per cent decline in the number of serious crimes in the city.

The lone cybercrime police station at Shivajinagar has 60 staffers and finding it difficult to cater to the rising number of cybercrimes.

The cyber police station investigates difficult nature of cybercrimes while other crimes are lodged at the police station and then forwarded to the police stations for further action.

Currently, the cyber police station officials seem to be overburdened with the rising number of applications. Meanwhile, the Pune police have decided to add five additional cybercrime cells to probe different types of cybercrimes. One unit of the cell will deal with hacking cum data theft, including source code theft, credential theft, identify theft, “man in middle” scams, hacking of websites, hacking WhatApp and threatening and extortion.

The second unit will handle online business frauds and cryptocurrency frauds. The third one will focus on cheating cases involving online job frauds, lottery frauds and mobile tower installation frauds while the fourth unit will probe cybercrime cases related to social media while the fifth unit will probe ATM card frauds like money transfer frauds using cloned cards, OTP share frauds, illegal online money transfer by hacking ATM card information and other monetary frauds.

Additional commissioner Ashok Morale said, “The necessary steps are being taken to lodge and investigate all types of cybercrimes. We have been successful in refunding money to a large number of victims and citizens have reposed their confidence in the functioning of the cyber cell.”

The cybercrime returned Rs 8 crore to as many as 551 victims of cyber-crime during the past six months.

The victims who lost their money in different types of online cybercrimes had approached the cybercrime cell after which action was initiated and the money was returned.

A senior official said, “Social media is highly abused as a platform where crimes are committed and delay in receiving a response from the internet and social media companies was a cause of concern as extended delay results in more time for the accused to misuse the social media platforms. The companies sometimes take two months to respond.”

After sending repeated reminders to the service providers, the cyber sleuths either write to the nodal officers of the respective service providers or to the Computer Emergency Response Team, India (CERTI) under the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology. However, their responses are not always met with.

Noted criminal lawyer advocate Milind Pawar said, “There are different technical challenges before the cybercrime officials while dealing with service providers as their server locations are outside the country. The details sent by police must clearly define the sections and be precise about the data sought as data sharing laws are quite strict abroad and subject to a number of verifications.”

Requests to service provider

The cybercrime cell had made 1,175 requests to 11 service providers in 2019 and of them 301 were rejected and 419 were provided while the rest remained unanswered till date. In 2020, 1,694 requests had been made. Of these 1,694 requests, 465 have been declined while 905 have been accepted and the rest remained unanswered till date. The most commonly targeted websites or apps for creating ‘fake profiles’ are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Preventive measures to secure from cyberattacks

Block profiles from public searches and restrict who can find via online search; Limit what people can learn about you through searching on the internet, Log out after each session, Don’t share social media credentials, Don’t accept friend requests from unknown persons, Don’t click suspicious links, Keep privacy settings of your profile at the most restricted levels, Common crimes committed on social media, Online threats, Stalking, cyber bullying, hacking, fraud, buying Illegal Things and Vacation Robberies

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