Hyderabad: Union Home Minister Amit Shah had earlier issued a stark warning, highlighting the present and growing menace of cybercrime within our nation. The surge in cybercriminal activities across the country provides undeniable proof that this crisis is not merely a future concern but a pressing issue demanding immediate attention.
To address this threat, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) launched an extensive nationwide operation known as 'Operation Chakra' last year, specifically targeting cybercriminals. During these operations, the CBI executed searches at 115 locations throughout the country, yielding substantial results. In Rajasthan alone, reports emerged of the discovery of one and a half crore rupees in cash and half a kilogram of gold, underscoring the brazenness of the cybercriminals.
In other news, a case had been filed against another gang who had extorted a staggering Rs. 100 crores using the guise of cryptocurrency. Furthermore, reports from global tech giants like Amazon and Microsoft pointed to a disturbing reality: certain individuals in India are orchestrating elaborate schemes, predominantly targeting foreigners for fraudulent activities.
Intelligence shared by international organizations, including Interpol, the FBI, the Royal Canadian Police, and the Australian Federal Police, has drawn attention to the gravity of financial scams perpetuated by cybercriminals. The extensive reach of these criminal networks is evident from their operations in eleven states, including Uttar Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, and Tamil Nadu, as part of the subsequent phase of 'Operation Chakra-2'.
Notably, recent incidents in Pune and Ahmedabad unveiled that the primary victims of cyber con artists were American and British citizens, reflecting a disturbing shift. The collaboration between Indian law enforcement agencies and their international counterparts, such as police departments in Singapore, Germany, Canada, and Australia, has revealed the far-reaching extent of these cyber gangs. The implications of these cybercrimes extend beyond national borders, tarnishing India's global reputation.
A comprehensive study conducted by the prestigious Indian Institute of Technology, Kanpur delved into the alarming landscape of domestic cybercrime, encompassing data from the three-and-a-half years leading up to June 2023. Startlingly, financial fraud emerged as the dominant component, constituting a staggering 75 percent of reported cases.
A disconcerting revelation within this statistic was that nearly half of these incidents were linked to UPI (Unified Payments Interface) and online banking services. This underscores an alarming trend in which cunning cybercriminals leverage mobile phones and computers as virtual platforms for executing fraudulent activities, victimizing unsuspecting individuals.
The study also identified a concerning concentration of cybercriminal activities in 36 cities across nine states, including notable locations such as Azamgarh, Ahmedabad, Surat, Bharatpur, and Chittor. Nuh, a recent addition to this list, came under the spotlight six months ago when a special operation, involving approximately 5,000 law enforcement personnel from various Haryana districts, led to the apprehension of 125 individuals, with 65 of them identified as hardened criminals.
These organized groups were implicated in over 28,000 cybercrimes nationwide, resulting in the theft of more than Rs. 100 crores. The scale of this issue becomes even more apparent when considering that a previous survey revealed that Indians accounted for a staggering 13 crores of the 35 crores of cybercrime victims worldwide in a single year.
To address this burgeoning crisis, the Central government introduced the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) three years ago, providing citizens with a platform to report cyber threats from the comfort of their homes. However, a significant concern emerges from the fact that, in 27 states, less than a startling one percent of basic information reports were registered, highlighting systemic deficiencies within the police apparatus.
This rising tide of domestic cybercriminal activity has inflicted untold damage on the lives of numerous unsuspecting victims. Moreover, the unbridled proliferation of internet scammers originating from India casts a shadow on the nation's reputation on the global stage. Effectively mitigating this menace necessitates unwavering collaboration between the Central and state governments, underpinned by synchronized efforts to establish a national-level joint force dedicated to combating cyberterrorism.
Only through such comprehensive cooperation can India hope to effectively control the growing specter of cybercrime within its borders.