BENGALURU: In a new modus operandi, cybercriminals are misusing a feature on search engines to cheat people, the police has discovered recently. The culprits target information seekers by exploiting the suggestion given on Google and other such websites, to edit the contact details of a business listed at a location.
Several complaints have been registered at the Cyber Crime Police Station, Bengaluru, where people have been robbed using the method. The miscreants target numbers of help desks of various companies found after a search on various search engines.
They edit the numbers and mislead the caller, cheating unsuspecting victims. In one of the cases, a resident of Nandini Layout was cheated of Rs 38,799 after he called the ‘helpline’ of an airline found after Google search to book a flight ticket. “The person on the other end of the phone took my card details and OTP number on the pretext of booking a ticket and withdrew the amount,” Vamshikrishna said in his complaint.
Another complaint was filed by Umesh, who was trying to pay his electricity bill using Paytm. When it failed, he called a customer care number of the firm found during a Google search. However, when he called that number he was asked to divulge his debit card and OTP details. As soon as it was shared, the culprits siphoned off Rs 49,999.
More than 20 such cases have been filed
Officials say lack of awareness is the main reason for gullible citizens falling prey to cybercriminals. Though telephone-based vishing scams have been widely reported, people continue to lose money to those who use such modus operandi. From 880 cases registered between March 15 and Dec 31, 2017, the number of such cases grew threefold to 2,438 cases in 2018.
The second most common cybercrime reported was fraudulent sale of cheap lookalikes of electronic goods on portals, followed by card skimming. Alok Kumar, Additional Commissioner of Police (Crime), Bengaluru, told The New Indian Express that most of the crimes detected could be avoided if people were aware of the methods employed by fraudsters to dupe people.
“However, despite knowledge about these crimes, people tend to share financial information over phone. The victims consider that they are safe from such crimes until they become victims,” he said, adding that most of the crimes could be avoided by not sharing any financial details with strangers. Officials tackling cybercrime also added that these criminals are coming with new techniques on a daily basis. “One of the common ways is to lure people with money or attractive goods sold at a low price. People should be
vigilant about such offers,” a source said.
Bengaluru accounts for 90% of cybercrime in state
In 2018, the cyber crime police station in Bengaluru city registered 13 complaints on a daily basis. The city now accounts for 90 per cent of all the cases registered in the State. Ever since a dedicated police station was set up in Bengaluru police commissionerate limits in 2017, 7,034 cases have been registered in 18 months at the station. While 2,023 cases were filed between March 15 and December 31, 2017, 5,011 cases were filed between January 1 and December 31, 2018.
Criminals on the prowl
Debit/credit card fraud
l Job fraudsl Card skimming l Matrimony fraud l Business opportunity fraud
l Other advance scams via online sites l Lottery fraud l SIM cloning
l Social media cases
l E-mail spoofing