COVID-19: Virtually vigilant, wary and wise

Updated: 08 September, 2020 08:12 IST | Hemal Ashar | Mumbai

As pandemic forces us to inhabit cyber space, a session demystifies online frauds

Slides from the presentation
Slides from the presentation

At a time when the world is battling a deadly virus, a session on 'Increasing Number of Online Frauds — Issues and Remedies' was very apt. Hosted by VCAN, a Mumbai public trust, whose overarching aim is to create linkages between the government and citizens, the session began with an address by Dr Balsing Rajput, superintendent of police, Maharashtra Cyber, followed by a legal perspective from Dr Prashant Mali, cyber and privacy lawyer.

Define it

A slide presentation buttressed Dr Rajput's address. He began, "What is a cyber crime? These are committed through facilitation from the computer." Rajput's talk was linear, from defining cyber crime to targets, different types of crimes, modus operandi and finally some redressal.

Dr Prashant Mali and Dr Balsing Rajput
Dr Prashant Mali and Dr Balsing Rajput

He said, "Women and children are prime targets. Younger people are targeted through job frauds and women are at risk of matrimonial cons. In the former, youngsters are given offer letters, they are unaware of the correct procedure and told to click dubious links. This must never be done. The women on shady matrimonial websites are lured through fake profiles and rosy promises. Once the victim is trapped, she is exploited. Here, women need to run extensive checks."

The fraud

In debit and credit card frauds, Rajput claimed, "While it is common how people are fooled into revealing their One Time Passwords, there is also the Grievance Redressal Fraud. In this, people shop for merchandise, it does not arrive but the grievance redressal number itself is fake."

Child alert

Rajput spoke on child pornography, sexual abuse and exploitation. He made an important point that cyber-stalking can be followed by offline-stalking. "Parents need to be aware of who the child is talking to in cyberspace and what he is surfing. Control over devices is important," said Rajput.

Outlining different campaigns against hate speech and fake news, Rajput told people to look at authentic government portals like for ways to report crimes, saying efforts are on to, "sanitise cyberspace."

Crimes in the virtual world are increasing by "leaps and bounds but there is an absence of remedies," said Dr Mali. The lawyer added, "Portals give statistics about the number of complaints filed but not on how many are converted into FIRs. It is when the complaint is converted into an FIR that the law can be set in motion. People make one phone call or send one email to the cyber crime police station and think the complaint is lodged. That is not an official complaint. The cyber crime portal will forward it to the respective police station and the complainant has to follow up aggressively."

The greed

The speaker said, "At times, even the most intelligent people reveal their details over the Internet. Greed is a huge reason why people get lured by conmen." Dr Mali stressed, "When people are targeted in online abuse, all they want is an IP address, which cannot be given. It can only be given to the police. There are a number of fraudulent investigators who claim they will get the IP address. These are obtained through nefarious means and are not valid in a court of law."
He added, "Only those who are extremely determined to get justice, get it."

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First Published: 08 September, 2020 07:15 IST

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