This is part of an initiative where the police work with banks to freeze accounts and illegal transactions if they are reported in time
Two month ago, an Indian armed forces person based out of Bengaluru lost ₹7.2 lakh in a cyber fraud scam. A man posing as an executive from the help desk of a nationalised bank asked for his account details claiming that the bank was updating his KYC details. Minutes after he gave the details, he realised that money had been wired out of his account. He immediately called the police control room, following which the staff alerted the bank’s cyber cell team, who responded within 20 minutes. They managed to recover ₹6.5 lakh of the total ₹7.2 lakh.
This is not an isolated case: from December 22, 2020 to October 26, 2021, the cybercrime cell of Bengaluru police has recovered a whopping ₹66.5 crore that victims lost. Of this, ₹50 crore has been returned to the people who were cheated.
During the same period, 4,243 accounts related to fraudulent transactions were frozen, said Bengaluru Police Commissioner Kamal Pant. As per data from the police, 6,850 cybercrime incidents were reported to the control room till October 26, 2021. It comes down to how fast the crime is reported. If the cyber fraud is reported as soon as the money is taken out of the account — as the army man did — there is a higher chance of retrieval. “There is no time limit that we have kept but the sooner they report to us, the better are the chances to save their money,” said a senior police official.
Since cybercrimes are committed online within seconds, the police initiate a response akin to the ‘golden hour’ concept. A 24/7 cybercrime cell was set up for quick response, which complainants can access by dialling ‘100’ or ‘112’.
In November 2020, the city police convened a meeting with RBI officials and representatives of various banks and financial institutions with the aim of seeking quick cooperation to contain fraudulent transactions. “With the cooperation of the RBI and banks and payment gateways, the police have been able to register and tackle more than 6,000 cases which is probably the first of its kind in the country, under a victim-friendly initiative,” Mr. Pant said.
It was through this system that the police were able to block financial transactions totalling ₹66.5 crore in about 10 months.
Superintendent of Police of Kalaburagi district Isha Pant, who used to head the initiative as DCP Command Centre until recently, said the system needs to be upgraded more for effective investigations. “The police team will have one more round of talks with the RBI and bank officials to improve the system and make it more effective,” she said. According to police officials, while nationalised banks are proactive and cooperative, private banks lag behind and do not respond to the police in time.
The police hope that this system will help stem the tide of cybercrime that the IT capital of India is notorious for. Bengaluru consistently tops the country with the highest number of cybercrimes registered.
According to data from the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2020 the city accounted for nearly 47% of the 18,657 cybercrime cases registered across India. What’s worse is that not a single conviction was recorded during the same period.
According to Mr. Pant, most of the cybercrime cases are hard to detect as more often than not, the perpetrators are based in other parts of the country if not abroad. Tracking them and securing their arrest has been a Herculean task, police officials admit, while expressing hope that the initiative will ensure that people do not lose their money.