The city police have filed more than 1,000 cases of credit card fraud and over 2,000 cases of debit card fraud in the last two years. Yet, the police are unable to arrest the scammers or recover the money swindled.
Even though complaints have been pouring in on a daily basis, not even a single arrest has been made in the past year. However, the stakeholders have somehow managed to recover 25% of the money lost in the last two years.
A status report released by the Central Crime Branch (CCB) recently stated that over ₹3.58 crore was recovered and returned to the victims by initiating quick action on the complaints.
B. Hariharan, an advocate specialising in cyber law, said, “Complaints of online frauds are increasing, but there is no concrete action from the police. They are simply closing the case without making any effort to identify the accused or the organised gang operating from far off places.”
Phishing, a common form of online fraud, is typically carried out by e-mail or instant messaging, and often directs users to enter details at a website, although phone contact has also been used at times.
Vishing cases are on the rise; the fraudsters manage to obtain confidential details such as date of birth, CVV/PIN numbers, credit/debit card numbers, expiry date and even OTP from gullible customers under the pretext of calling them from the bank’s customer care office. According to police, after getting the details, the scammers make payments to mobile phone and online payment service providers, which are quite difficult to trace or retrieve.
Vishing finds the top spot among cyber crimes in the city, targetting senior citizens and women. The cases are handled by special units such as Bank Frauds Cell and Cyber Crime Cell of the CCB. Of late, ‘smishing’ (SMS phishing where text messages asking people to pay money or click on suspicious links) are on the rise.
“On an average, we receive 10 to 15 complaints a day. Fraudsters operate from far off places such as Delhi, Noida, Gurugram and Jharkhand. They also change the phone numbers which are obtained using fictitious names. Moreover, the victims file complaints very late, which makes it tough to nab the accused,” says a senior police officer.
Jayaraman, a senior citizen who was a victim to online fraud, said someone called him over the phone in October last year and scammed ₹1.1 lakh. “The caller did not even allow me to think or speak. After I made the mistake of sharing the OTP, several transactions were made from my account,” he said.
He lodged a complaint with his bank’s fraud investigation wing and visited them a couple of times. “They always say they are investigating,” said Mr. Jayaraman.
The arrests are few and far between. In 2016 February, the police arrested seven men in Haryana in connection with online fraud. Last month, the CCB arrested an accomplice who facilitated the transport of goods back to New Delhi where from a gang indulged in vishing.
‘Report within 24 hours’
S.R. Senthilkumar, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber Crime, said, “We are taking immediate action on the complaints of online banking fraud. If any complaint on vishing or phishing is brought to us within 24 hours, we can recover the money with the help of the banking staff. Only 9% of victims report within 24 hours,” he said.
“The Cyber Crime Cell recovered ₹3.58 crore from fraudsters and handed it back to the complainants,” he said, adding that efforts were on to nab the gang of fraudsters from remote areas across the country.