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What is ‘digital arrest’, and what can you do to ensure you don’t fall victim to cybercriminals? | Explained News | #cybercrime | #computerhacker


Following increasing reports of “digital arrests” by cybercriminals posing as law enforcement officers, the central government has collaborated with Microsoft to block more than 1,000 Skype IDs used for online intimidation, blackmail, and extortion. The government has advised people to file a complaint immediately after an incident.

Online frauds and criminals typically call potential victims and tell them that they have sent or are the intended recipients of a parcel containing illegal goods, drugs, fake passports or any other contraband item. In some cases, the criminals contact relatives or friends of the target and tell them that the target has been found to be involved in a crime or an accident, and is in their custody.

The criminals, who often use pictures or identities of police personnel to convey authenticity, usually demand money from the target for a ‘compromise’ and closure of the case. In certain cases, the victims are “digitally arrested”, and forced to stay visible over Skype or other video conferencing platforms to the criminals until their demands are met.

The cybercriminals are also known to use studios that look like police stations or government offices, and to wear uniforms similar to those of law enforcement agencies.

A large number of complaints have been made on the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) about intimidation, blackmail, extortion, and digital arrests by cybercriminals posing as police officers, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Department, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), and Enforcement Directorate (ED), etc.

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Victims around the country have reported having lost large sums of money to these criminals.

Actions by the Centre

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Intelligence agencies have concluded that the incidents are part of an organised online economic crime racket being run by cross-border crime syndicates. The Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) under the Ministry of Home Affairs, which coordinates the response to cybercrime in the country, has blocked more than 1,000 Skype IDs linked to such activities, after collaborating with Microsoft.

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It is also working to block SIM cards, mobile devices and “mule” accounts used by the cybercriminals Money mules or “smurfers” are “innocent victims who are duped by fraudsters into laundering stolen/ illegal money via their bank account(s)”, according to a security advisory posted by HDFC Bank on its website. “When such incidents are reported, the money mule becomes the target of police investigations, due to their involvement,” says the advisory.

The Home Ministry is working with other ministries and their agencies, RBI, and other organisations to combat these criminal activities. I4C has been providing inputs and technical support to police forces of states/ UTs to identify and investigate cases.

I4C has also posted infographics and videos on its social media platform Cyberdost, and on its handles on X (Twitter), Facebook, Instagram, etc., to increase awareness. The Ministry has advised citizens to be alert and spread awareness about cybercrime.

People who receive such calls should immediately report the incident on the cybercrime helpline 1930, or at http://www.cybercrime.gov.in. They should also file a complaint and inform the local police.

© The Indian Express Pvt Ltd

Mahender Singh Manral

Mahender Singh Manral is an Assistant Editor with the national bureau of The Indian Express. He is known for his impactful and breaking stories. He covers the Ministry of Home Affairs, Investigative Agencies, National Investigative Agency, Central Bureau of Investigation, Law Enforcement Agencies, Paramilitary Forces, and internal security.

Prior to this, Manral had extensively reported on city-based crime stories along with that he also covered the anti-corruption branch of the Delhi government for a decade. He is known for his knack for News and a detailed understanding of stories. He also worked with Mail Today as a senior correspondent for eleven months. He has also worked with The Pioneer for two years where he was exclusively covering crime beat.

During his initial days of the career he also worked with The Statesman newspaper in the national capital, where he was entrusted with beats like crime, education, and the Delhi Jal Board. A graduate in Mass Communication, Manral is always in search of stories that impact lives. … Read More

First uploaded on: 16-05-2024 at 18:25 IST



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