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Caught in a web: Bengaluru still has most cybercrime cases, but Jamtara not the scamster hub anymore | #cybercrime | #computerhacker


Bengaluru, the country’s ‘IT capital,’ topped the list in cyber crimes registered across all metro cities in India in 2022 again, an ignominy it has had for several years now. According to the National Crime Records Bureau report, 2022, for cyber crimes, as many as 13,534 cases were registered in 19 prominent metro cities of the country in 2022, and cases in Bengaluru accounted for nearly three-fourths of that. In 2023, Bengaluru alone recorded 17,623 cyber crime cases.

But here is the catch. Until recently, Jamtara in Jharkhand, which even inspired an OTT series, was the headquarters of cybercrime in India. But law enforcement agencies say there are new hotspots emerging, proving to be a major challenge for the investigating authorities.

Epicentres and hotspots

According to a 2023 report, ‘A Deep Dive into Cybercrime Trends Impacting India’ by the Future Crime Research Foundation, an IIT Kanpur incubated start-up, among the top 10 cybercrime epicentres are Bharatpur – Rajasthan (18%), Mathura – Uttar Pradesh (12%), Nuh – Haryana (11%), Deoghar – Jharkhand (10%) and Jamtara – Jharkhand (9.6%).

The report said several common factors contribute to their vulnerability, including geographical proximity to major urban centers, limited cybersecurity infrastructure, socioeconomic challenges, and low digital literacy.

At the same time, the report identified emerging hotspots across States, according to which Bengaluru is the biggest in Karnataka. “While established cybercrime hubs continue to pose significant threats, the emergence of new hotspots demands our attention and proactive measures. These emerging cybercrime hotspots represent regions where various forms of digital criminal activity are on the rise, often catching both law enforcement agencies and the public off guard,” the report added.

The Bengaluru city police’s list is on similar lines. A police officer who is part of one of the four Special Investigation Teams (SIT) formed to investigate specific types of cybercrimes in Bengaluru said, “Nowadays, we are getting accused from West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Rajasthan, Bihar and Jharkhand.”

Kuldeep Kumar Jain, DCP, Traffic, East, who is heading the SIT for the courier scam, acknowledged that there was a shift from Jamtara as a cybercrime hub. “Such hubs are coming up in other places coming up across India. For the courier scam, we have observed that they are based out of Kerala, Gujarat, Rajasthan, and areas surrounding Delhi,” he said.

Challenges in investigation

The police spoke about the challenges in investigation. “Investigation is extremely difficult. Even for a single case, our team which travels to these states, needs 10 to 15 days. Even after going there, they may not be able to secure the accused immediately. Entering those villages is not easy and they have to seek the local police’s cooperation. Even for them, it is difficult to apprehend the accused. Moreover, recovery is a huge challenge. We are focusing on returning the money to the victims,” said the officer.

Sharing an example, an officer said, “One of our teams went to Araria district in Bihar to apprehend the accused in an Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS) scam case. The local police sought the help of the sarpanch, but despite all this, the accused had crossed over to Nepal as they were already alerted about the police operation. In another operation in Bihar, a day before our team reached, the police of another State had barged in without intimating the local police and they were assaulted by the locals,” he said.

Spreading awareness

The Bengaluru police said awareness on the part of the citizens would prove a key factor in deterring cybercrimes. “If you lost money, immediately approach 1930 or the local police so that the accounts can be frozen,” said B.M. Laxmi Prasad, Deputy Commissioner of Police, North East.

Mr. Jain said though the Bengaluru police are raising awareness through various modes, percolation is still not high. Ironically, he said, most victims are educated, while the scammers and mules are illiterate. He said that the means of raising awareness will have to be revisited to get the message across to a larger population.

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