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May 24, 2024

Protecting Indian Citizens: Govt and Tech Giants Unite Against International Spoof Calls

In a collaborative effort to safeguard Indian citizens from the pernicious onslaught of international spoof calls, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) and the Department of Telecommunications (DoT) are joining forces. This strategic partnership aims to stem the tide of deceitful calls originating from overseas, which often masquerade as official communications from law enforcement agencies such as the Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB) or the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

According to a recent report in the Economic Times, the I4C has forged an alliance with tech giant Microsoft to counter the rampant misuse of logos belonging to enforcement agencies. Exploited by scammers abroad, these logos serve as a tool to deceive and extort money from unsuspecting Indian citizens.

Rajesh Kumar, the chief executive of I4C, shed light on the alarming trend of callers impersonating police or law enforcement officials to orchestrate ‘digital arrests’ as a means of coercion for financial gain. Kumar emphasized the sophistication of these schemes, revealing that perpetrators often employ call spoofing techniques to lend an air of legitimacy to their fraudulent activities. Thousands of Skype IDs, meticulously crafted to impersonate Indian agencies, have been identified and reported to Microsoft by the proactive efforts of I4C.

The avenues through which these criminals seek to extort money during ‘digital arrests’ are varied and include international fund transfers, transactions involving physical gold, cryptocurrency exchanges, and ATM withdrawals. Kumar urged citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspicious phone numbers, WhatsApp identities, or URLs to the cybercrime website, categorizing them as ‘suspect data’. Additionally, citizens are encouraged to cross-reference phone numbers with those listed in the ‘suspect repository data’ available on the website.

In response to this growing threat, the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) recently issued an advisory elucidating the modus operandi employed by fraudsters in executing ‘digital arrests’. The advisory underscores the elaborate setups employed by these criminals, which often include simulated police stations and government offices complete with uniforms to lend an aura of authenticity to their deceitful ploys.

Fraudsters typically initiate contact with their targets under false pretenses, claiming to have dispatched or intercepted packages containing illicit substances, narcotics, counterfeit passports, or other prohibited items. In some cases, they fabricate scenarios implicating close acquaintances or family members of the victim in criminal activities or accidents, thus compelling them to comply with their demands.

The MHA advisory warns of the organized nature of these online economic crimes, which are reportedly orchestrated by cross-border criminal syndicates. In response, the I4C has intensified efforts to block SIM cards, mobile devices, and mule accounts utilized by these fraudsters, in collaboration with relevant authorities.

As the government and tech giants unite in their resolve to combat this scourge of international spoof calls, it is imperative for citizens to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activity promptly. By staying informed and proactive, individuals can play a crucial role in safeguarding themselves and their communities against these insidious threats to cybersecurity and financial well-being.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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