Till August this year, 3,301 FIRs for cyber crimes were registered by the Mumbai Police, but in only 182 of them, or 5.5% of the cases, arrests could be made. Hemraj Singh Rajput, Deputy Commissioner of Police, Cyber, talks with Jayprakash S Naidu about the awareness needed to reduce cybercrimes, the steps taken to address them and the obstacles faced by the police while tackling the cases.
Many people lose money to cybercrime and don’t know what to do immediately to get their money back. What should they do?
They should dial 1930 – a helpline to recover money lost to online financial crime.
The victim must have all the cyber crime related details like bank account details, UPI link where the money was transferred so that the account can be frozen.
The helpline was launched by the Mumbai Police on 17th May this year and to date we have responded to over 11,000 calls.
Of these, 1,900 calls related to financial fraud and we managed to freeze an amount of over Rs 40 lakh which the victims will recover. But the victim must call us within the hour (after the crime has been committed) or as soon as possible.
Do you think the helpline team should be expanded and its services made available 24 hours a day?
Currently, the 1930 helpline number operates from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. But we try to do this around the clock so that if cybercrime happens late at night or in the wee hours of the morning, we will be able to stop fraudulent transactions. We are working on increasing the workforce and hope to expand the team.
Many fake mobile numbers of wine shops, restaurants, courier services, bank helplines, etc. are uploaded to Google by cyber crooks and people end up calling them and losing money. Are cyberpolice doing anything to prevent such crimes?
We call it “publishing fraud”. We are in contact with various search engines. We track these fraudulent numbers and report them daily to search engines and CERT-In. Even search engines record these numbers at our request as well as by themselves.
I would advise people not to assume that the numbers they find on search engines are genuine. They must visit an authentic website for the numbers.
Seniors are often victims of cybercrime. How to contact them to avoid such cases?
Not just old people, even young people fall prey to cybercrime. We are running an awareness campaign through Mumbai Police social media platforms, radio channels, media where we try to make people understand: “Jo Dikhta hai woh hota nahi hain (What you see does not may not be true).
We make reels with the hashtag: #ThodasaSochle (Think before you act).
Additionally, we organize 15-20 minutes of street theater to educate people about cybercrime in a humorous way.
We work with Rotary clubs and the women’s wing of the Indian Merchants Chambers (IMC) to raise awareness.
We approach schools and colleges to organize awareness campaigns. We are planning competitions with the students. We are also approaching senior clubs.
Tell us about the preventive measures that banks, social media platforms and brands should immediately take to prevent cybercrime?
First, you have to be vigilant. All banks and other brands must check all these search engines to see if their names and numbers are being used by fraudsters and must report this to the search engine, which must remove them.
Second, banks and all intermediaries such as dating sites, search engines, brands, etc. should inform customers through multiple mediums, including social media.
As cybercrime takes precedence over conventional crime, do you think the municipal police should also have 12 zonal cybercrime units?
At present, we have five regional Cyber Crime Police Stations which will handle cases involving an amount above Rs 10 lakh. Each police station has a cyber cell and our plan is to strengthen the five regional cybercrime stations. We will also strengthen cyber units at police stations.
What are the main issues you face as a cyber police DCP in Mumbai?
During the two years of confinement (induced by the coronavirus), cybercrime has exploded.
Even though five regional cyber crime centers have sprung up in Mumbai, cyber crimes have also seen a significant increase and hence we have limited resources to deal with it. Thus, increasing the workforce will be the top priority. Today, we have expertise and good, dedicated police officers.
We have learned that a new building dedicated solely to cyberpolice will be built in Bandra. When will this happen and how will it help?
Next year it (the building) will be handed over to the Mumbai Police. Currently we are working on plans to get the most out of the building. It will have training facilities, a dedicated cyber lab that will have state-of-the-art tools, software and equipment.
All local police stations will receive all kinds of technical aids from this building.