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Private and startup employees key target for cyber criminals in Telangana   | #cybercrime | #computerhacker

Of the 10,135 cybercrime cases reported in Telangana in March 2024, over 4,272 (42.15%) victims were employees, data shared by the Telangana State Cyber Security Bureau (TSCSB) revealed.  

A whopping 2,863 were private employees and 351 were software or Information Technology (IT) employees working largely in Hyderabad, Cyberabad and Rachakonda. This was followed by 786 who were self-employed, including startup owners, while 272 were government employees.  

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As many as 525 businessmen fell prey to cyber criminals this month, in which ‘identity theft’ and ‘business and investment frauds’ were the key Modus Operandi (MO).  

In case of impersonation or cheating, fraudsters impersonate popular business entities, higher officers or even fake customer care executives and con unsuspecting victims through calls. Prominent frauds in this category include parcel frauds, trending in the last six months, in which cyber criminals impersonated as executives of two top global logistics and courier companies and customs officials. This also includes credit/debit card fraud – where victims are defrauded on the pretext of blocking of the card, card limit enhancement, KYC updation, PAN card linkage, replacement of card, reward Points and even Aadhaar Enabled Payment System (AePS).

In business and investment frauds, on the other hand, fraudsters lure unsuspecting investors into making significant investments on fake trading apps. The most common MO is to add the victim to a WhatsApp group under the pretext of sharing trading-related information followed by sharing an app link on which victims can invest. When victims attempt to withdraw their supposed profits, the fraudsters deny the withdrawal requests, resulting in significant financial losses.

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“As a community, startup owners could be slightly more mature than the normal public. But fraudsters are a step ahead of us and there is a long way to go both from an individual and business level,” said Mahakali Srinivas Rao, the chief executive officer at T-Hub.  Larger companies have caught up by deploying extensive cyber security systems and insurance, however, the middle spectrum constituting Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs) and startups are still vulnerable as it an added cost, he added.

“Complacency combined with a lack of awareness is a lethal combination. Education is an ongoing process and we have been doing sessions as well, but there is a long way to go. Till then ‘trust but verify’ is the key,” Mr. Rao added.  

Meanwhile, students (487) and housewives (403) also continue to be on radar. Of these, majority across the two segments – 216 students and 142 women – were conned on the pretext of fake business and investment frauds, where fraudsters lure unsuspecting victims into making significant investments on fake trading apps.  

Interestingly, as many as 242 farmers fell prey to cybercrimes in the past month, across gift fraud (49), identity fraud (48), business and investment fraud (41) and loan fraud (41).  

As cybercrime cases intensify, citizens have been proactively reporting the cases both online and via the helpline. According to data, as many as 3,985 complaints were raised by citizens online through the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP) Portal while 17,381 calls pertaining to financial (7,765) and non-financial (1,315) were made on the 1930 helpline number in March alone.  

In many cases, promptness of the citizens in reporting the fraud, followed by an efficient response from the police, has led to a blocking of a significant portion of the lost amount. Of the 10,135 complaints in March, a total of ₹17.92 crore was successfully blocked.  

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