February 21, 2024

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India Combats Cybercrime, Urges Citizen Vigilance

The National Cybercrime Threat Analytics Unit (NCTAU), a vertical under the Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre (I4C), identified and recommended action against over 100 websites engaged in organised investment or task-based part-time job frauds The I4C is a Ministry of Home Affairs initiative designed to address cybercrime in the country through a coordinated and comprehensive approach.

The Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), exercising its authority under the Information Technology Act of 2000, has blocked these websites. These platforms, which posted task-based illegal investment-related economic crimes, were found to be operated by foreign entities. They used digital advertisements, chat messengers, and mule or rented accounts as part of their operations.

Additionally, it has come to light that the gains from these large-scale economic frauds were laundered out of India through various means, including card networks, cryptocurrency transactions, overseas ATM withdrawals, and international fintech companies.

In this regard, numerous complaints were lodged through the 1930 helpline and the National Cyber Reporting Portal (NCRP), highlighting the substantial threat these offences posed to citizens, along with concerns related to data security. Typically, these frauds entail the following steps:

  1. Targeted digital advertisements are launched on major search engines and social media sites using key phrases like “work-from-home” and “ways to make money from home” in multiple languages. These advertisements originate from overseas advertisers and predominantly target retired individuals, women, and unemployed youth seeking part-time employment.
  2. Upon clicking the advertisement, an agent initiates a conversation with the potential victim through a messaging service. The agent persuades the individual to perform various tasks, such as liking videos, subscribing to channels, rating maps, and similar online activities.
  3. After completing the assigned task, the victim is initially rewarded with a commission. Subsequently, the victim is urged to invest more capital with the promise of higher returns for additional tasks.
  4. Once the victim, having gained confidence deposits a larger sum, the deposits are subsequently frozen, resulting in the victim being deceived.

As a precautionary measure, the government has advised citizens to exercise due diligence before investing in any online schemes that promise exceptionally high commissions and are promoted over the Internet. Furthermore, when an unfamiliar individual contacts someone through an online messaging service, individuals should avoid carrying out financial transactions without proper verification.

The name of the receiver mentioned in the Unified Payments Interface application should be verified. If the recipient appears to be a random person, it could be indicative of a mule account, and the scheme may be fraudulent. Likewise, individuals should scrutinise the source from which the initial commission is received.

Citizens are strongly advised to abstain from conducting transactions with unfamiliar accounts, as they may be implicated in activities such as money laundering and potentially even terror financing. Engaging in such transactions could result in the blocking of accounts by law enforcement and other legal actions.

Establishing a ‘Cyber Safe India’ is one of the Ministry of Home Affairs’ top priorities. In a recent press release, it reiterated that it is dedicated to combating cybercrime and safeguarding individuals from cyber threats. Citizens are encouraged to promptly report the phone numbers and social media handles used by fraudsters to the National Cyber Reporting Portal (NCRP).

India is actively prioritising cybersecurity readiness and advocating for enhanced protection among citizens, government personnel, agencies, and organisations. The country is spearheading efforts to fortify digital defences, ensuring a resilient and secure cyber landscape across all sectors.

OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology’s National e-Governance Division conducted a comprehensive CISO Deep-Dive Training Programme, part of the Cyber Surakshit Bharat initiative, to enhance cybersecurity awareness and empower government officials across India against escalating cyber threats.


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