CYBER CRIME : MUMBAI POLICE
The State of Maharashtra has become the cyber-crime hub of the country. More than 2800 cases were reported by the cyber cell in the first 10 months of 2019 in Mumbai alone which comes to 10 cases reported per day! Even more alarming picture was painted by the report released by the Maharashtra cyber cell, which showed a two-fold increase in the number of cyber-crime cases in the last five years with more than half of it being from Mumbai.
Mumbai is the richest city in India which makes it the most promising target of the cyber criminals. Most cyber-crimes take place where the money is, such as the financial sector, oil and gas industries etc. as the cyber criminals can make most of their money in these areas.
The reason why Maharashtra or Mumbai, in particular, is facing this spurt in cyber-crime cases is because of it being the richest state and richest city, respectively. The second reason is that the states’ cyber-crime detection department is one of the most advanced in the country which leads to active detection of the cases. Most of the cases reported in Mumbai are solved at the police station level as a cyber cell is set up in every police station and the citizens of cities like Mumbai and Bengaluru are also more aware of the cyber-crime situation as compared to other cities. These cells are provided with modern software and hardware technology tools and over 198 police officials have been imparted training on the methods to tackle cyber issues since 2016 in Maharashtra. Even with such promptness of the police officials, the detection and conviction rate has not improved in the city. But the overall cyber-crimes have gone down, with a notable increase only in the banking frauds.
Mumbai has lost over 7000 crores to banking frauds in the last six years. The biggest case involved a cyber fraud which took place in 2018 when the State Bank of Mauritius complained that their Nariman point office system was penetrated by hackers and 147 crores were transferred to accounts in US, UK and France. However, timely action by SBM in blocking the accounts helped to limit the damage. Recently in 2019, a retired SBI deputy manager was arrested for siphoning off Rs.24 crores from fixed deposits of railway labour union. Currently, in the times of COVID-19, other crimes have taken a dip but there has been a rampant increase in the number of fraudulent phone calls, who claim that they are calling from a bank and use COVID-19 related excuses to cheat people. The Mumbai police in April, 2020, released a note of caution advising citizens to not respond to phone calls or messages asking for bank details.
Taking cognizance of such issues, the Maharashtra government set up a ‘knowledge hub’ to provide information to banks about cloning of debit cards and cyber-attacks. The limited police strength and the comparative increase in the online frauds are becoming a tough situation for the city to handle. From 2012 to 2019 April, only 21% of the total cases reported were solved by the Mumbai police.
The main problem here is that the police officials posted to the special cell often do not have the technical aptitude or qualification to solve a cyber-crime case. There is a need for technology experts who will be able to collect evidence from the ISPs and provide unbiased evidence. Cases of defamation, harassment, stalking are easily detected compared to banking fraud or hacking due to lack of expertise as it requires intensive investigation and technical knowledge. Along with lack of expertise, there is also a lack of willingness and motivation among the police officials as most of the cyber criminals work from remote areas and the chances of catching the culprit seems low because of which many officers are interested in executive positions at the police station instead of cyber cell, as reported by cyber law advocate, Prashant Mali. The problem lies not only with the police officials but also with the courts. There is an urgent need for a specialised court to handle cyber-crime cases where the appointed judges have adequate knowledge about cyber law and technology. Banking frauds can be eliminated by educating the citizens about the perils of sharing banking details and One Time Passwords.
By- Mona Das