Himachal Pradesh is receiving one complaint of cyber crime every hour, officials on Saturday said. An increase of 77 per cent has been witnessed in financial frauds, social networking and miscellaneous complaints from 4,593 (January to October 2022) to 8,152 in the same period in 2023 with Mandi, Kangra and Shimla districts being the top targets, according to police data.
A comparison of the first ten months of 2022 and 2023 point out that the Unified Payments Interface (UPI) frauds increased from 436 to 1,145, job frauds from 234 to 600, sextortion and blackmailing from 162 to 199, and fake/hacked social media accounts from 706 to 1,314.
The cyber crime is increasing at an alarming rate, said officials.
Besides financial frauds, cyber crime against women in the form of blackmailing and threatening, stalking, defamation, morphing, fake profile and internet crime through online gaming and sextortion targeting older affluent men have risen significantly, they said.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Bhupinder Negi said besides spurt in cases, the increase in the number of complaints is also attributed to the awareness on cyber crime as large scale awareness campaigns are being carried out for the general public, especially the youth on cyber frauds and as a result more people are coming forward to file complaints.
“We are receiving one cyber complaint every hour. The number of FIRs has increased from 11 (till October) in 2022 to 69 in the same period in 2023,” said SP (Cyber Crime) Rohit Malpani.
The success rate in getting the money refunded has increased and money worth Rs 1.16 crore has been refunded this year as compared to Rs 84.59 lakh last year, he added.
Director General of Police (DGP) Sanjay Kundu said cyber crime is a borderless crime, which has left no one untouched and, therefore, Himachal Pradesh is no exception.
We are experiencing high traffic of cyber crime in the state, he added.
The DGP told PTI that the state government has established three cyber police stations in Shimla, Mandi and Dharamshala, and capacity building efforts are underway to ensure that 100 per cent police personnel are trained in cyber crime investigation.
In 2023, the complaints pertaining to financial frauds accounted for about 64 per cent (5,178), social networking complaints for 23 per cent (1,901) and miscellaneous complaints for 13 per cent (1,073).
The criminals are abusing social media, making it difficult to track and trace the fraudsters as most of the social networking sites are functioning from abroad and connecting and communicating with them is a time consuming process, which retards the pace of investigation and arrest of cyber criminals and conviction still remains a daunting task for the police.
The investigations into cyber crime revealed that cyber criminals are operating from Haryana’s Mewat and Gurugram, Jharkhand’s Deoghar, Rajasthan’s Jaipur, Alwar and Sikar, West Bengal capital Kolkata, Uttar Pradesh’s Greater Noida, South Delhi, West Champaran in Bihar, and Surat and Ahmedabad in Gujarat.
Latest technology equipments, including call detail record (CDR) analyser, mobile forensic tool, disc forensic software, video forensic software and disk managing kit have been purchased to carry forward the investigation.
The officials said that two assistant superintendents of police, six inspectors, one assistant sub-inspector, six head constables and 16 constables have been deployed in the cyber police stations besides 20 temporarily attached police personnel.