Cyber Crimes on the rise: Call 1930
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Cyber Crimes on the rise: Call 1930

April 16, 2024
  • Beware of digital house arrest, WhatsApp scams and part-time employment schemes
  • File complaints immediately or call Cyber Crime Helpline, says City Police Commissioner

Mysore/Mysuru: Instances of ‘digital house arrest’ are on the rise, leaving City Police deeply concerned as many cases continue to surface. 

A 29-year-old female advocate from Bengaluru fell victim to a ‘digital arrest’ scam last week, enduring a harrowing two-day ordeal. Fraudsters coerced her into paying Rs. 14.57 lakh and subjected her to a humiliating ‘narcotics test’, even forcing her to take an oath of secrecy.

The extortionists also threatened to distribute her nude video, including on dark web, if she failed to provide an additional Rs. 10 lakh by 3 pm on Apr. 5.

What is Digital House Arrest

Mysuru City Police Commissioner Ramesh Banoth shed light on this emerging threat, defining ‘digital house arrest’ as a fraudulent scheme wherein impostors, posing as law enforcement officers, dupe victims into believing that their bank accounts, SIM cards, Aadhaar cards or other linked credentials have been illicitly exploited.

“These cyber criminals then virtually confine the victims within their homes and coerce them into making payments,” explained the City Top Cop.

“These ‘cyber thugs’ exhibit remarkable technical prowess, adept at persuading their targets and siphoning off their hard-earned money,” he said.

In a press release, the Top Cop said that by impersonating Police or investigative agencies, these fraudsters instil fear by falsely claiming that parcels, purportedly from reputable courier services like FedEx or Korean companies, have been linked to drug trafficking and money laundering. They intimidate victims by asserting their involvement in cases concerning prominent figures and politicians.

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Luring victims through video calls

The modus operandi involves luring victims into Skype video conversations where individuals posing as Police Officers or high-ranking officials from agencies like the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) or Intelligence Bureau (IB) intimidate them further.

These fraudsters use translation tools for better English to send threatening letters and forge letterheads of Police and other enforcement agencies.

“They present forged documents bearing logos of the Supreme Court (SC), Reserve Bank of India (RBI), IB and CBI, along with signatures of senior IPS Officers, to fabricate a sense of legitimacy. The victims are coerced into believing they must comply with questioning or face dire consequences, including raids and arrests,” the City Top Cop added.

To avoid interrogation, victims are coerced into depositing money into designated bank accounts. The fraudsters demand payment under the threat of legal action or Police intervention. Victims are kept on Skype for hours, with threats of digital arrests looming if they attempt to disconnect.

WhatsApp investments schemes

In parallel schemes, cyber fraudsters are targeting individuals through WhatsApp and Telegram groups, promising substantial returns on investments in the share market and cryptocurrency. They advertise on social media platforms, enticing victims with the prospect of lucrative profits.

Initially, victims are encouraged to invest through legitimate platforms, but they are eventually persuaded to transfer funds to the fraudsters’ accounts. Once funds are transferred, victims are manipulated into paying additional fees under false pretences, such as taxes or charges purportedly required for fund transfers.

However, no profits materialise and victims find themselves defrauded of their investments, the Police Commissioner said.

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Part-time job scams target young and housewives

Another prevalent scam targets individuals seeking part-time or online employment opportunities. Fraudsters entice victims with promises of earning money through shared links, initially requiring a small investment.

As victims become ensnared, they are coerced into making increasingly substantial payments under the guise of premium memberships or investment opportunities.

The targets of these scams are usually young people and housewives. Most of the victims are women who are seeking additional income.

As these fraudulent activities escalate, the public must remain vigilant, the Police Commissioner said. Awareness and immediate action are essential to combat cybercrime  effectively.

Victims have been urged to report incidents to the Cyber Crime Helpline at 1930 or file complaints with the local Police Station who will direct the complainants to relevant cybercrime cracking experts.

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