Rising Trend of Digital Arrest Scams

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Rising Trend of ‘Digital Arrest’ Scams: Cybercriminals Exploit Noida and Faridabad Women in Latest Cyber Fraud Cases

Instances have arisen in Faridabad and Noida, where women have become targets of “digital arrest,” encountering extortion and psychological manipulation from cybercriminals masquerading as law enforcement officials. In a recent surge of cyber fraud, two distinct cases have surfaced in Faridabad, Haryana, and Noida, Uttar Pradesh, highlighting the concerning prevalence of “digital arrest.” In both scenarios, the victims faced significant financial losses, amounting to lakhs, alongside enduring psychological manipulation by cybercriminals who posed as law enforcement officers.

Understanding Digital Arrest

‘Digital Arrest’ is an emerging form of cybercrime where fraudsters impersonating law enforcement officials convince their targets that their Aadhaar card, SIM card, bank card, or bank account has been involved in criminal activities. By fabricating accusations, they coerce victims into paying money under the threat of legal consequences.

Faridabad Incident

In Faridabad, a 23-year-old woman fell victim to a digital arrest scam, losing Rs 2.5 lakh, as reported by the police on Thursday through news agency PTI. The incident unfolded when the victim received a call on October 12 from an fraudster claiming to be a customs officer in Lucknow. The caller alleged that a parcel containing passports and cards linked to the victim’s Aadhaar number was being sent to Cambodia, implicating her in criminal activities, including human trafficking. Posing as police officers, the cybercriminals fabricated accusations and coerced the victim into paying a significant amount.

Detailing the incident, the woman explained, “They also referenced complaints in which people claimed to have given money to send children abroad, accusing me of duping them of around Rs 3.80 crore. Subsequently, a man posing as a CBI officer informed me that I needed to pay five percent of the amount, which is Rs 15 lakh. When I expressed my inability, he declared that they were digitally arresting me,” as quoted by PTI.

The cybercriminals utilized psychological tactics, keeping the victim logged into Skype while pressuring her to transfer funds to a specified bank account. Following the successful extraction of Rs 2.5 lakh, the perpetrators released the victim from the purported “digital arrest.

Noida incident

In a distinct incident in Noida, a woman fell prey to a fraudulent scheme, losing over Rs 11 lakh and enduring a day-long “digital arrest.” The cybercriminals employed a similar approach, posing as police officials and falsely implicating the victim in imaginary criminal cases. The victim was informed that her Aadhaar card and other personal details had been utilized for purchasing a mobile phone SIM card, contributing to illegal advertising and harassment of women.

In her complaint, she described how her call was subsequently transferred to an individual who identified as a Mumbai Police officer. This person carried out the initial interrogation over the phone and later continued the questioning on a Skype video call. He conveyed that I faced an additional allegation of money laundering related to (the founder of an airline), leading to an FIR against me and an arrest warrant issued by the Supreme Court.”

The criminals coerced the victim into transferring funds from her accounts, citing the necessity for a Supreme Court-ordered investigation. To intensify the manipulation, the fraudsters insisted on maintaining secrecy, purportedly due to national security implications. The victim was pressured to retain sufficient balances in her accounts and even advised to apply for a personal instant loan of Rs 20 lakh from ICICI. The fraudsters went to great lengths, capturing an image of the victim’s signature on Skype under the pretext of validating her Aadhaar card for the fabricated investigation, as reported by PTI.

Upon realizing the scam, the victim reported the incident to the Uttar Pradesh Police’s Cyber Crime officials, alleging a fraud of Rs 11.11 lakh and providing details of her digital arrest from morning to night. Inspector Reeta Yadav, overseeing the Cyber Crime police station in Noida Sector 36, confirmed the registration of an FIR under the relevant provisions of the Information Technology Act and the Indian Penal Code.

Stay Vigilant Against Digital Threats

Inspector Reeta Yadav has issued a cautionary message to the public, emphasizing, “People should be aware that the police never question individuals digitally. If someone threatens you in this manner, request a proper notice, seek their details, and inform them that you are heading to the police station to meet them,” as reported by PTI.

Rising Cyber Threats: Urgent Call for Public Awareness and Vigilance

These incidents underscore the dynamic strategies employed by cybercriminals, shedding light on the imperative need for heightened awareness and vigilance among the public to thwart falling victim to such scams.

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