Surge in cyber crimes against vulnerable senior citizens raises alarm in Goa
Senior citizens vulnerable to financial losses and privacy breaches; urgent need for heightened cyber security awareness and preventative measures
MARGAO: In Goa, concerns are rapidly mounting over the surging number of cyber crime cases, with a particularly distressing trend targeting senior citizens.
The picturesque coastal state has witnessed a worrisome increase in hacking attempts and online scams, leaving the elderly population vulnerable and, in some cases, causing them to lose their hard-earned savings.
As technology becomes an integral part of daily life, local residents, especially the adult children of the affected senior citizens have emphasised that it is imperative for local authorities to step up efforts in educating and safeguarding seniors against these digital threats.
According to cyber experts, the online hacking landscape has seen a diverse array of cyber crimes, ranging from phishing scams and identity theft to fraudulent investment schemes.
“Hackers often employ cunning tactics, sending deceptive emails or messages to unsuspecting victims, coaxing them into revealing sensitive personal information or luring them into fake investment opportunities,” said an anti-hacking expert.
However, against this backdrop, these nefarious activities have left many residents, especially senior citizens, vulnerable to financial losses and privacy breaches, highlighting the urgent need for heightened cybersecurity awareness and preventative measures.
What’s worse is that they face another obstacle when they try to file complaints with the police stations in the hope of getting their cases resolved and getting their money back.
This is because the Cyber Crime Cell of Goa Police registers offences where the extent of loss is Rs 5 lakh or more. Meaning, those who have suffered losses below Rs 5 lakhs, have to register their cases at their respective police stations. This has been the situation with many such cases where the complainant has felt that the police, who may have the right intent, do not have the expertise to handle and track such cases.
Advocates shared their opinions about this, calling for a change.
“Cyber law is a legal system that deals with the internet, computer systems, cyberspace, and all matters related to cyberspace or information technology. In our fast-moving digital age, there has been a phenomenal surge in e-commerce and online stock trading, leading to more cyber crimes. Cyber criminals are becoming increasingly sophisticated, making it essential for law enforcement to adapt,” said Adv Kautuk Raikar, a criminal lawyer based in Panjim
“The current scenario where cyber crime cases below Rs 5 lakh are handled by local police stations seems inadequate, considering the rising number of cyber crime. Lowering the threshold for Cyber Crime cell intervention might be necessary to ensure swift and effective response, providing victims with the support they need. Adapting the rules could enhance cybersecurity measures and better protect citizens from financial losses, ultimately fostering a safer digital environment for everyone,” Adv Kautuk added.
“The rules governing cyber crime definitely need to change. Every rupee lost which has been earned by the blood and sweat of the general public, requires to be recovered and such offences should be investigated by the local police, irrespective of the amount lost,’ said Adv Tarshish Pereira from Margao.
Senior lawyer and constitutional expert Cleofato Almeida Coutinho concurred and felt the Cyber Crime cell, which is better equipped, has to be the agency handling all cases of such nature.
“All cases must be investigated by the Cyber Crime cell irrespective of the loss as a crime is a crime irrespective of loss. However, it appears that the cell only deals with defamation at the hands of politicians in power,” said Adv Coutinho.
Senior police officials stressed that solving cyber crime cases is a priority for Goa Police irrespective of the amount and that the limit of Rs 5 lakh is only for cases of cyber fraud and cheating to be taken up for investigation by Cyber Crime Cell whereas cases of amounts lesser than Rs 5 lakh are investigated at the local police stations.
They added that the Cyber Crime Cell is equipped with advanced investigative tools to help investigate cyber crime as well as all offences of technical nature.
They added that the well-trained Investigating Officers are also following up closely with the cases under trial in the hope of increasing the number of convictions. However, there have been several cases that were closed due to lack of sufficient evidence.
The police added that they have been carrying out various awareness programmes including one this month itself, where they explain the various types of cyber crime and also advise the public not to give out any sensitive personal data online, such as bank related information and to always try and verify with their respective local branch first.
Strength of Cyber Cell
It is to be noted that the Cyber Crime Police Station at Ribandar has a strength of 23 staff out of which 10 police officials have been provided with adequate training in cyber crime investigation