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Job offers to emotional blackmail, cyber criminals’ lockdown tactics

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A criminal is a fast learner. He keeps upgrading his skills in line with his changing surroundings, making it difficult for the law enforcing agencies to keep pace. Those involved in white collar crimes are even harder to trace and arrest as unlike other criminals they can commit a crime without being physically present near the victim. Now it seems that cyber criminals have fast adapted to the country’s state of lockdown and evolved new tactics to dupe people.

From impersonating an identity on social media platforms like Facebook or Instagram to luring people for jobs in the government sector; from emotional blackmail to pretending to be bank officials, they do it all. During the lockdown when many are working from home and spending more time on mobiles and computers, the cyber frauds seem to have taken this as an opportunity.

Recently, a man was arrested from Mathura in Uttar Pradesh for impersonating the identity of the victim’s senior on Facebook and asking him for Rs 60,000 for the treatment for his wife who he claimed was hospitalized. The victim, a Delhi resident, obliged and ended up transferring Rs 58,000 to the PayTm wallet of the accused. The matter came to light when the victim called his senior.

In another case, a woman was duped of Rs 34 lakhs as a man who developed a friendship with her on social media turned out to be a cheat. He not just emotionally blackmailed her on the promise of marriage but also went to Leh and Ladakh with her. The man was arrested from Vijayawada.

Political commentator and policy analyst Sanjaya Baru was cheated of Rs 24,000 on the pretext of online delivery of liquor in June. Baru was also the media advisor to former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

“The irony is people don’t divulge details to strangers in the real world but in the virtual world they trust easily and part with their personal details which are later misused by the cyber criminals. The key word is caution. One has to be cautious while interacting on social media, said Anyesh Roy, DCP Cyber crime.

During the lockdown, data released by Delhi police showed that 3,430 such complaints were received in May this year as compared to just 1,260 in January. This means the number of cases almost tripled during the lockdown.

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