Kerala Records Over 23,000 Cyber Fraud Complaints in 2023

Kerala battles a surge in cyber fraud: Over 23,000 complaints in 2023 highlight the need for heightened vigilance and cybersecurity awareness.
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In a significant revelation from the central home ministry, Kerala faced a staggering 23,757 cyber fraud complaints in 2023 alone. The data also indicates that between January 1, 2023, and May 31, 2024, authorities blocked 5,055 SIM cards and 4,766 mobile phones in response to these online fraud complaints filed on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP).

A Case of Cyber Deception

A striking example of cyber fraud involved a 70-year-old resident of Aluva. Two months ago, he received a call about an arrest warrant supposedly issued by the Supreme Court in a case registered at Colaba police station, Mumbai. The scammers, posing as high-ranking police officers, conducted the call via WhatsApp, presenting a fake FIR and arrest warrant. The man, a retired senior executive, was coerced into transferring Rs 1.15 crore over six transactions before realizing he had been duped. Following his complaint, Aluva cyber police arrested six individuals connected to the scam.

Alarming Statistics

From January 2023 to May 2024, Kerala saw 21,159 cyber fraud complaints lodged, leading to 1,312 FIRs. The Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System reported losses exceeding Rs 200 crore in 2023 alone. This system facilitates the immediate reporting of financial fraud, aiming to thwart the efforts of fraudsters. The NCRP, focusing on cyber crimes, especially against women and children, converts reported incidents into FIRs managed by respective state law enforcement agencies.

Varied Deceptive Tactics

Cyber fraud schemes are not limited to financial scams. Scammers employ various tactics, such as claiming that parcels containing drugs with the victim’s address have been seized or accusing individuals of visiting pornographic websites and threatening them with criminal charges. Fraudsters often impersonate law enforcement officers, wearing uniforms and claiming affiliation with agencies like the CBI, NCB, or state police. Ernakulam Rural police chief Vaibhav Saxena emphasized the importance of public vigilance and skepticism towards online promises.

Helplines and Awareness

To combat cyber fraud, the police have established a WhatsApp number (94979 80900) for reporting loan scams and a 24/7 toll-free helpline (1930) for lodging cyber complaints. Jiyas Jamal, founder of the NGO Cyber Suraksha Foundation, highlighted the ineffectiveness of many awareness programs as a key factor in the rising number of online scams. His foundation’s “Safe Net: A Zero Cyber Crime Safety Campaign” aims to raise awareness and equip citizens with the skills to protect themselves in cyberspace.

Key Data Points

  • 23,757 complaints reported in Kerala in 2023
  • Rs 201.8 crore in losses reported last year
  • 8,559 complaints put on hold
  • Rs 36.48 crore on hold

(Source: National Crime Reporting Portal, Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting, Management System data)

As Kerala grapples with the growing menace of cyber fraud, it is crucial for citizens to stay informed and vigilant to safeguard against these evolving threats.

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