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    Over 1,000 Skype IDs Blocked in Crackdown on Digital Arrests and other Cyber Fraud

    What’s the news: Following the blocking of over 1,000 Skype IDs, the central government on May 14, 2024, raised an alert against cyber criminals impersonating law enforcement agencies or government officials via calls and threatening citizens with ‘Digital Arrests’, extortion, or mobile disconnections. In separate press releases, the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of Communications asked victims of such cybercrime or financial fraud to register their complaints at helpline number 1930 or www.cybercrime.gov.in.

    What is a Digital Arrest?

    Digital Arrest is a type of cybercrime, where a fraudster pretends to be a government official or similar authority figure and accuses potential victims of being involved in an illegal activity. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) has received a large number of complaints regarding such incidents as well as intimidation, blackmail, and extortion by cybercriminals posing as police authorities, Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Narcotics Department, Reserve Bank of India (RBI), Enforcement Directorate and other law enforcement agencies.

    “These fraudsters typically call a potential victim and inform that the victim has sent or is the intended recipient of a parcel, which contains illegal goods, drugs, fake passports, or any other contraband item. Sometimes, they also inform that a near or dear one of the victim is involved in a crime or an accident and is in their custody. A demand for money is made to compromise the “case”. In certain instances, unsuspecting victims are made to undergo “Digital Arrest” and remain visually available over Skype or other video conferencing platforms to the fraudsters, till their demands are met. The fraudsters are known to use studios modeled on police stations and government offices and wear uniforms to appear genuine,” said the Ministry in its press release.

    I4C blocking Skype IDs, and SIM cards to prevent fraud

    To prevent such crimes, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) reported that it blocked more than 1,000 Skype IDs involved in such activities, in collaboration with Microsoft. They can facilitate blocking SIM cards, Mobile devices, and Mule accounts used by these fraudsters. Back in October 2023, a similar collaboration was made by Microsoft, Amazon, and CBI to conduct search and seizure operations in call centers across several Indian states.

    DoT blacklists and blocks suspicious caller IDs

    The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), under the Ministry of Communications, also issued an advisory to citizens regarding fake calls on Tuesday. Reiterating that the DoT does not make calls to citizens threatening disconnection, it stated that the following measures were taken to combat suspected fraud communications:

    • Under the CHAKSHU facility (a service provided under Sanchar Saathi), 52 Principal Entities, involved in sending malicious and phishing SMSs to the citizens have been blacklisted.
    • 700 SMS content templates have been deactivated and 348 mobile handsets blacklisted on a pan-India basis across all telecom operators.
    • 10,834 suspected mobile numbers were flagged for re-verification to the telecom operators, out of which 8272 mobile connections disconnected failing re-verification till 30th April 2024.
    • 86 lakh mobile handsets blocked on a pan India basis for involvement in cybercrime/financial frauds.

    Also Read:

    The post Over 1,000 Skype IDs Blocked in Crackdown on Digital Arrests and other Cyber Fraud appeared first on MediaNama.

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