Spurt in Transnational Organised Cyber Crimes in India

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What’s in today’s article?

  • Why in News?
  • What is the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)?
  • Findings of the I4C
  • Types of Cybercrimes Originating from these Southeast Asian Countries

Why in News?

  • According to the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C), with 46% of scammed money being lost to cybercrimes originating in southeast Asian nations, Jamtara and Mewat have been overshadowed as centres of financial cyber fraud in India.
  • Organised cybercrime gangs in Cambodia, Myanmar and Lao PDR are hiring Indian job-seekers and then compelling them to defraud fellow citizens in India (through investment, digital arrest, trading and dating scams).

What is the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)?

  • I4C has been established under the Ministry of Home affairs (MHA) to act as a nodal point at National level in the fight against cybercrime.
  • The scheme to set up the I4C was approved by the MHA in October 2018, however, it was inaugurated in New Delhi in January 2020.
  • It aims to provide a platform to deal with cybercrimes by improving coordination between various Law Enforcement Agencies and stakeholders.
  • One of the important objectives of I4C is to create an ecosystem that brings together academia, industry, public and government in prevention, detection, investigation and prosecution of cybercrimes.
  • I4C has envisaged the Cyber Crime Volunteers Program to bring together citizens with passion to serve the nation on a single platform and contribute in the fight against cybercrime in the country.

Findings of the I4C:

  • A large number of Indians are falling prey to financial fraud carried out over the Internet, allegedly by criminals based in three contiguous southeast Asian countries: Myanmar, Laos, and Cambodia.
  • The I4C found that 46% of such frauds reported between January - April this year originated in these three countries, in which the victims cumulatively lost an estimated Rs 1,776 crores.
  • The Indian government had set up an inter-ministerial committee comprising various law enforcement and intelligence agencies to tackle the recent ‘spurt’ in transnational organised cybercrimes.

Types of Cybercrimes Originating from these Southeast Asian Countries:

  • Trading scams:
    • The alleged fraudsters issued ads on social media offering free trading tips, often using pictures of well-known stock market experts and fake news articles.
    • The victims would be asked to install some specific trading applications and start investing on the apps.
    • The victims deposited money in particular bank accounts to buy shares, and were shown some fake profits in their digital wallets. But when they tried to withdraw this money, they were unable to do so.
    • Between January and April this year, Indians lost Rs 222 crore to 20,043 trading scams.
  • Digital arrest:
    • A caller would inform potential victims that they had either sent or were the intended recipients of a package containing contraband, illegal products, drugs, forged passports, etc.
    • Once they had the target, the criminals would contact them over Skype or another video calling platform.
    • They would pose as law enforcement officials and demand money for a compromise and closure of the case.
    • The victims were digitally arrested, which meant they were forced to stay visible to the criminals until their demands had been met.
    • Between January and April this year, Indians lost Rs 120 crore to 4,600 digital arrest scams.
  • Investment/ task-based scams:
    • Scammers target victims through WhatsApp, promising money for boosting social media ratings of some entities.
    • They are then asked for bank details, receive a small sum, and are lured into larger investments with promised returns.
    • Profits never materialise, leaving victims trapped in a fraudulent scheme, highlighting the exploitation of trust for financial gain.
    • Between January and April this year, Indians lost Rs 1,420 crore to 62,587 investment scams.
  • Dating scams:
    • The male victims were seduced by individuals they mistook for foreign women.
    • These "women" would make preparations to meet in person after making marriage or relationship proposals.
    • The victim would receive a call from the "woman" explaining that she had been held at the airport and needed money to be released.
    • Between January and April this year, Indians lost Rs 13 crore to 1,725 romance/dating scams.

Q.1. What is the Cyber Surakshit Bharat?

To enhance the government's vision of Digital India, the Cyber Surakshit Bharat was launched by the MeitY to ensure more awareness about the latest cybercrimes and the cybersecurity challenges of India.

Q.2. What is the Indian Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT-In)?

CERT-In was formed in 2004 by the Government of India under the Information Technology Act 2000. It is a functional organisation of the MeitY, with an objective of raising security awareness among the Indian cyber community and to provide technical assistance and advise them to help them recover from computer security incidents

Source: 46% of cyber frauds in India originate in Southeast Asia | IE