Meet the other police

Jul 17, 2013, 09:26 IST | Hassan M Kamal

At a time when criminals are getting increasingly sophisticated, the role of the Cyber Crime Cell, Mumbai has become important, from tracking miscreants to finding missing people. The GUIDE looks into the workings at a cyber police station and how they help solve daily crimes

Around three months ago, actress Mona Singh was subjected to lot of embarrassment when a nude clip of hers made the rounds on the Web. The actress filed a complaint with the Cyber Crime Cell at the Bandra Kurla Complex Police Station. Upon investigation, the Cyber Cell discovered that her face was morphed onto the MMS clip. The police are now tracking the culprit who uploaded the video on the Web.

This is just one of the many cyber crimes that the Cyber Crime Cell at BKC deal with on a regular basis. Their crime list is immense — phishing, credit card frauds, identity theft, data theft, hacking, pornography, cyber stalking, net extortion — the list is endless. But unlike the average policemen, these cops don’t patrol the streets nor do they have special riot kits to fight against a troubling situation. They sit at their workstations and track criminals on their computers.

“It’s not a regular police job, as it requires you to apply more brain than brawn,” says senior inspector Nandkishore More, Head of Cyber Crime Cell, BKC Police Station. With criminals becoming more and more technologically advanced, More says that the role of the Cyber Cell has grown up manifolds. “There is no boundary to the crimes that can be committed on the Web. And we have to stay alert all the time,” he adds.

All in a day’s work
Part of the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell based in Fort, the Cyber Police Station at BKC started its operations in 2010. It has now evolved in its role from being an investigating arm, to finding newer ways to solve a case and helping the police remain updated with newer technologies, thanks to its six-day training programme. And it has also proven to be the model base for creating another cyber police station in the city.

The Cyber Police station at Bandra Kurla Complex

“We have an in-house Forensic Lab and Cyber Lab, that apart from looking for clues to solve a case, also trains various police departments to help them with cyber crime investigation,” says More, adding, “We not only get requests from the Maharashtra Police but also from various other state polices.” The Cyber Cell conducts the programme along with volunteers selected by NASSCOM, and students from Mumbai University.

Worry factor
Cyber crime has been a matter of huge concern for the Mumbai Police, especially since in the recent times; the police force itself has been a victim of cyber crime. Recently, the salary accounts of police were hacked. According to reports, Maharashtra recorded more cyber crime than any other state in 2012, a total of 561 cases, a 42.7% increase from the 393 cases registered the previous year. Of the total, 471 different offences were registered under the Information Technology Act and around 90 under the Indian Penal Code. Not only the state police but also the Central Government is wary, as high-profile Union ministers like Kapil Sibal have become a victim of cyber crimes.

While financial frauds top the list, nationally, India stands reportedly third globally in terms of cyber bullying. Other crimes include cyber defamation, hacking, pornography and blackmailing.

Helping society
While most crimes remain under the purview of the cyber crime cell, it hasn’t strayed from helping other departments solve a case including help track missing persons. For example, a few months ago, the Mumbai Police received a request to locate a runaway 16-year-old, from Madhya Pradesh. The parents knew that he was somewhere in Mumbai, but didn’t know his exact location. They were also aware that he would often use his Facebook account to stay in touch with his friends. After the local police in Madhya Pradesh, failed to track the boy, the case was transferred to the Cyber Police Cell, Mumbai.

The Cyber Cell came very handy. They used the boy’s Facebook log details to track down the IP address of the cyber café that he used to access the net. After narrowing down their search to that area, they tracked the boy in no time.

In a similar incident, the police helped a girl’s family track down a criminal, who had cheated them of over R14 lakhs by promising to marry the girl through a matrimonial site. More says that there are plenty of such cases, where people have gotten emotionally involved with strangers and end up being cheated.

“We have also been working towards tracking such criminals,” he adds.

While More refuses to divulge any details about how many cases the BKC Cyber Police Station solves in a month, he reveals that one of its main aims is to provide counselling to both victims and culprits, whenever needed. He says that, lately, counselling has become an important part of the cyber police station’s work, especially with victims of cases like cyber abuse, cyber stalking or pornography, and in cases where the offenders are minor. “Usually in cases like cyber abuse, counselling becomes very important to bring the victim to normalcy,” he says. 

More adds that at most times, culprits are minors or adults, who seem to be unaware of the fact that they have committed a crime. “It’s important to make them understand the nature of their action. So, we bring both the culprit and the victim together and help them resolve it. The culprit is made to go through counselling. In minor cases, a criminal case is always the last resort,” adds More.

Update on cyber crime awareness
>>India recently launched National Cyber Security Policy 2013 to provide a roadmap for a secure computing framework.

>>A couple of organisations have been working towards creating a well-equipped police force.

Department of Electronics and Information Technology (DietY) has created the Indian-Computer Emergency Response Team (ICERT), that works with cyber security experts to deal with cyber security risks and conduct awareness programmes.

National Police Academy has also organised courses to help police deal with cyber crimes.

NASSCOM works with various private players to upgrade India’s Cyber Security and stays updated of newer technologies.

Don’t be a cyber prey
Cyber Crime hot list that’s been duping people of millions of bucks

Credit card frauds: It is the most common yet it gets the maximum number of victims.

Nigerian Fraud: Usually a letter is sent informing a person of get-rich-quick schemes. One of the oldest, this scheme has been prevalent since the 1990s.

Phishing/Hacking: Beware of similar looking websites, lottery mails or any abnormal activity on your social networking profile.

Threatening Emails or SMSes: Inform the Cyber Police as soon as possible. Call them at 26504008. 

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