A 25-year-old Bengalurean, studying in Germany, lost Rs 1.5 lakh to a cyber fraud two weeks ago. An SMS asked him to update his PAN on a link, and he didn’t realise it was a phishing attempt.
His father has since reported the case on 112 (emergency helpline), written to the bank concerned, and visited the HSR Layout police station, where he saw many other victims of fraudulent banking transactions desperately seeking help.
Does he stand a chance of getting the money back? Swifter reporting can help victims get their money back, says Santosh Ram, cyber crime inspector, north-east division.
“If the crime is reported within one or two hours, a period we call the ‘golden hour’, we can help freeze the transaction. Then, with a court order, banks can be directed to return the money to the victim,” he explains.
“In my division, more than 50% of victims have got their money back,” he says. The station gets the maximum number of cyber complaints in the city, averaging five FIRs a day.
Conviction, however, is rare, and can take four to five years. Online crimes are usually committed by people outside the state and the jurisdiction presents a challenge, he says.
“If we manage to arrest a person outside the state and want to bring him to Karnataka to seek more information, we need a transit warrant, which is almost always rejected by the courts because cyber offences are often bailable,” Santosh says.
Senior citizens fall for OTP-related frauds. But now, cybercriminals are increasingly sending QR codes to dupe people, Santosh says and urges people to keep an eye out for scams.
Youngsters are falling for crypto scams on social media lately. After hacking your account, the scammers send messages to friends and followers, offering tips to make profits via cryptocurrency trading and sharing links to get started. “We have seen youngsters losing Rs 2 to 3 lakh,” adds Santosh.
A startup professional lost Rs 10,000 to a crypto scam last month. She did not raise an alarm on social media for the fear of “victim shaming”. She did not file a complaint either.
The 25-year-old saw a post on her friend’s Instagram account, along the lines of how she met a crypto trader online who helped grow her money.
“The post looked convincing. I messaged my friend on Instagram to ask if it was ‘legit’ and she said ‘yes’. I was asked to pay Rs 5,000, then another Rs 5,000. I was asked to pay more if I wanted to pull out my money. I got suspicious. This time, I messaged my friend on WhatsApp and she said hackers had taken control of her account,” she says.
To protect her Instagram account from hackers, she has activated two-factor authentication now.
Be safe online
Don’t share OTPs with anyone over the phone or in response to SMS links.
Don’t share confidential info with any caller claiming to be a ‘relationship manager’.
Source phone numbers from the official website. Google search numbers can be fake.
Be wary of friend requests from unknown people on social media sites.
Call 112 or visit the nearest cyber police immediately to report a case.
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