While people took over 14 hours on average to report cybercrime on the helpline 1930, sluggish response from banks further delayed the blocking of fraudulent transactions by 5-11 hours, an analysis by the Haryana police’s cybercrime agency has found.
The findings, shared with The Indian Express exclusively, revealed that the police analysed all cybercrime complaints received from December 20, 2023, to January 20, 2024, where defrauding of Rs 26.8 crore was reported to banks for immediate action. Of this, transactions of only Rs 6.73 crore were successfully blocked, meaning that 75 per cent of the amount reported by the police could not be blocked because of delays on the banks’ part.
The data revealed that after the police alerted banks by uploading details of fraud on cybercrime.gov.in, to which all banks and financial institutions have access, banks were further taking around 5-11 hours to act. By that time, fraudsters would siphon off the money through mule accounts, by withdrawing it in cash or by using it for shopping.
“First banks took around five hours to react (layer 1). When money was moved by the fraudster to the next bank, it took 11 hours to react (layer 2). Money moves from account to account in progressively smaller amounts before these are moved to unidentifiable or unrelated (called mule) bank accounts and drawn in cash by banks, ATMs or point-of-sale machines,” a senior police officer said.
The data analysis suggested that while the police took about eight minutes on average to relay fraud complaints to banks, the banks’ nodal officers took considerably longer to act on these alerts.
In a majority of complaints, victims took an average 14 hours and sometimes even 38 hours to report the cyber crime, further making the prospect of recovery bleak as the amount would be quickly transferred by the fraudsters to mule accounts.
While citing the “worrying trend” in reporting cyber crimes, Additional Director-General of Police (Cyber) OP Singh also stressed the pressing need for banks to strengthen their response mechanisms to online frauds.
“Our data shows a worrying trend in cybercrime reporting and response. While the police are communicating fraud cases to banks rapidly, the banks’ responses in blocking these transactions are alarmingly slow,” the ADGP said.
He added, “We analysed the average time taken by citizens to report the cybercrime and then further by the banks…by that time the fraudsters would have already shifted the money or withdrawn it. Our appeal to banks is backed by detailed data analysis revealing significant delays in both the reporting of cybercrimes by citizens and the subsequent actions taken by banks to block fraudulent transactions.”
The ADGP said the police, however, had been conducting awareness programmes on cybersecurity, teaching the public the importance of immediate reporting of any suspicious online activity.
“Our analysis indicates that people often report incidents after a significant delay, during which cybercriminals exploit their information or funds,” he explained.
Exacerbating the issue is “the sluggish response from banks”, according to the ADGP. “There’s an urgent need for banks to deploy advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and machine learning to identify and counteract fraudulent transactions swiftly,” he said.
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