Regulators and security experts repeatedly issue warnings to make people aware of online fraud. Unfortunately, these warnings are usually ignored, and cybercriminals continue to dupe people with impunity, especially with tricks aimed at addressing the greed for quick money. The promise of riches through currency trading is a new trick to dupe people with the greed factor, while sextortion is a trick that plays on the 'fear factor' and involves outright blackmail. Let us take a look at both types of frauds.
Amdani Solution aka Currency Trading Fraud
In Indore, a gang opened its office in the name of Amdani Solutions and lured several investors with huge returns from trading foreign currencies (forex trading). The gang is understood to have opened almost 500 demat accounts in the name of a group of investors, who handed over their money to the fraudsters without knowing anything about currency trades. The gang controlled all the accounts through an app they had developed called MetaTraders.
A report from Hindustan Times
says, the gang collected investors' money in a separate bank and a different set of demat accounts. "The amount reflected in the demat account was only visible to the customer in the form of digits, which appeared to be increasing but that was not the case in reality. Because of this, the customer trusted and invested more money."
"Later, when the customer wanted to take profits of this amount, more money had to be transferred to different bank accounts in the name of GST conversion charge and settlement charge," the report says, quoting a police official.
The cybercrime wing of Uttar Pradesh (UP) police arrested Shoib Mansoori, a key member of the gang, from Indore.
Around 500 such fraud, demat accounts were opened and people from different states were duped of about Rs15 crore, the report says.
The lesson here is never to invest your hard-earned money in a product that you do not understand.
Nude Video Calls & Sextortion
It was a 16-second video call and an officer from the Indian Administrative Services (IAS) cadre has not slept properly for the past 18 months. His family life is in shambles, and he is under severe stress.
In February last year, the officer received a video call from a woman. Less than ten minutes later, he received his morphed photograph with the woman in a compromising position. Before he could realise what had happened, these photographs were sent to his wife and daughters through WhatsApp.
The number from which he received the video call became unavailable. However, he received a call on his landline demanding Rs5 lakh for not making the morphed photos viral. The IAS officer filed a complaint, and the criminals were traced, but they walked out on bail within five months.
Triveni Singh, superintendent of police from UP cybercrime cell, told IANS, "Maximum crime in the cyber world today is related to nude photographs that are morphed from video calls. You answer a video call, and the scammers take screenshots and morph them into nudes which are then used for blackmail."
Even former central information commissioner (CIC) Shailesh Gandhi received a WhatsApp video call on his mobile. When he saw a girl undressing on the other side, he immediately disconnected the call. Later, he also received a message on WhatsApp but did not reply.
However, two days later, he received a call from someone claiming to be former IPS officer Rakesh Asthana, who told him that action would be taken against the former CIC. Mr Gandhi disconnected the call and filed an FIR at Santacruz police station. The case is registered under sections 385 and 66(E) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC).
"The entire system appears to be afflicted with learned helplessness," Mr Gandhi says. "A significant part of cybercrimes originate from a mobile phone. The owners of the SIM card can be easily identified. Most probably these are issued on fake documents. If that is the case, then dealers or agents who accepted fake identities should be held responsible. An automated system could be devised easily to handle most of the process. It would encourage citizens to report frauds. Instead of the victims, the perpetrators should feel scared."
In another case, a well-known lawyer also received a video call, followed by a demand for money. He is filing an FIR at his nearest police station.
While the number of sextortion cases are increasing, the victim needs to file an FIR so that there would be proper action against the culprits.
According to reports, the tri-junction of Haryana, Rajasthan and UP has fast emerged as the 'New Jamtara' of sextortion rackets. The gangs operate in the Mewat region of Haryana. Further, Bhiwadi, Tijara, Kishangarh Bas, Ramgarh, Laxmangarh in Alwar and Nagar, Pahadi and Govindgarh in Bharatpur are also the main areas from where these cyber thugs are operating.
According to a report from IANS, in just eight months in 2021, Rajasthan police registered complaints of cheating to the tune of Rs55.56 crore. Most of these cases are related to sextortion. At least 36 gangs have been busted and 600 accused arrested by Alwar police in the sextortion cases.
How to Report Cyberfraud?
Do report cyber crimes to the national cyber crime reporting portal http://cybercrime.gov.in
or call the toll-free national helpline number, 1930. To follow on social media: Twitter (@Cyberdost), Facebook (CyberDostI4C), Instagram (cyberdostl4C), Telegram (cyberdosti4c).