Cyber frauds or cybercrimes are one among the major issues that the world faces today. Basically, any criminal activity that involves a computer, networked device or a network can be termed as a cybercrime. Primarily it is done to generate financial gains and profits. Annually trillions of dollars are lost globally and is estimated that around $10.5 Trillion will be lost annually by 2025. In India, according to the National Cyber Security Coordinator around Rs. 1.25 lakh crore was lost in the year 2019 and each day numerous cases are registered pertaining to cyber frauds.
As the necessity of the internet connectivity has started to be felt by every individual the volume of the crimes related to cyber security has increased and is expected to increase more drastically. Since the criminal no longer needs to be physically present when committing a crime, it has now become increasingly popular among the fraudsters. The internet’s speed, convenience, anonymity and lack of borders make computer-based variations of financial crimes including ransomware, fraud and money laundering, as well as crimes such as stalking and bullying, easier to carry out.
Where did it all start?
The world of cyber frauds finds its real origin with the invention of email and its proliferation in the late 80’s. The scammers would send malwares or scams via inbox and cheat out money through numerous means. In the 90’s the advancements of browsers brought out another wave in the world of cyber frauds. Unlike today there were multitude of sites that were not protected and were vulnerable to the viruses. The users were also not protected making them more easy targets to the scammers and fraudsters.
The scale of real cyber frauds began to take off in the 2000’s with the rise of social media and still is among the most active scamming tools. The amount of personal data being fed in the social media sites made it easier for the scammers to identify easy targets. They use hundreds of methods to scam people which makes it more difficult to identify genuine users from the scammers in these social media sites.
Cases of cyber frauds in Sikkim.
Sikkim, a tiny Himalayan state of India, has also seen a surge in cases pertaining to cyber frauds in recent years. In the month of January and February 2022 alone, two separate cases of frauds were registered in the Police where lakhs of rupees were cheated from the victim’s bank accounts through online modes.
In one of the cases, a man from West Sikkim was contacted by some unknown persons in January 28, 2022, where he was informed that they were the chairman and other officials from Reliance Company and were contacting him on the pretext of installing 5G Reliance Jio Tower in his land. Accordingly, he was told to make certain transactions through online mode where an aggregate amount of Rs. 6,93,160 was swindled from the victim. Later three individuals were arrested in connection to the case.
Another case was registered in the East District of Sikkim where on February 5, 2022, an amount of Rs. 3,787 was deducted from the bank account of one victim after which he had tried to contact the customer care but was unable to do so. Later he received a call asking him to download an application in his phone namely ‘Any Desk’ and was assured that he would receive his money back but in turn an amount of Rs. 1,45,000 was deducted from his bank account. He again contacted the customer care and this time they responded and the internet banking in his account was suspended. But again, he received a call on February 6, 2022, asking his card details and OTP, promising him to return all the money lost but in turn an amount of Rs. 11,990 was again deducted from his account. A total of Rs. 2,44,990 was cheated from the victim’s bank account.
These were just the cases registered in recent few days. Many individuals from Sikkim has been cheated with huge amounts of money through online mode in the past.
Why is there a surge in cases of cyber frauds in India?
India, in general, has seen a dramatic surge in the cases of cyber frauds or cybercrimes in recent years which is being attributed to COVID-19 pandemic. As more and more people work from home, largely through online mode, people spend relatively more hours in the internet. Be it for education, for banking, shopping, etc., which makes the fishing pond of the scammers larger. Every day, cybercrimes such as cloning of credit cards/debit cards at ATMs, ransomware, identity theft, KYC frauds, crypto jacking, drugs and illegal arms sale through Dark Web, social media stalking, child pornography, online job fraud and lottery, social engineering, web defacement, cyber terrorism etc. are reported and with the advancements of internet in rural areas and the increase in the number of the internet users will only increase such cases.
What are the laws that deals with cyber frauds in India?
In the year 2000, the Indian Parliament had passed a law namely Information and Technology Act or simply the IT Act of 2000 which was to function as the primary law in India dealing with cybercrime and electronic commerce. The act was said to provide a legal recognition for transactions carried out by means of electronic data interchange and other means of electronic communication, commonly referred to as “electronic commerce”, which involve the use of alternatives to paper-based methods of communication and storage of information. The original Act contained 94 sections, divided into 13 chapters and 4 schedules and is enforced in whole of India. Additionally, if a crime involves a computer or network located in India, persons of other nationalities can also be indicted under the law.
It should be brought under notice that it was not the first law of its kind that dealt with the crimes pertaining to cyber security. In-fact there were numerous Acts, rules and regulations notified by the Indian government to prevent such crimes but it desperately needed amendments and updates.
The IT Act of 2000 amended various sections of the already existing India Penal Code, 1860, the Indian Evidence Act, 1872, the Banker’s Book Evidence Act, 1891 and the Reserve Bank of India Act, 1934. The amendments were done to make the Act compliant with new developing technologies.
Today any crimes that are identified as the cybercrimes are booked under this law which provides a legal framework for electronic governance by giving recognition to electronic records and digital signatures. This Act defines cybercrimes and prescribes certain penalties for the offenders too.
Despite the presence of such Act that prescribes stringent penalties for offenders, India is among the top countries that are in the targets of cyber-attacks. The banking and the telecom sectors being the most attacked ones.
The National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) initiated by the Government of India in the year 2013, had prescribed numerous strategies to counter security threats from cyber space but till now limited implementation has taken place and the lack of comprehensive cybersecurity strategy or policy is conspicuous and increasing the vulnerability of the country.