‘Golden hour’ crucial in retrieving lost money

Sources said lost money was retrieved in more than 80% of cases in which the complaints were lodged within an hour of the crime.
Image used for representational purpose only.
Image used for representational purpose only.

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The first 60 minutes are crucial when it comes to reporting cyber financial fraud. Lodging a complaint within the period, dubbed ‘golden hour’ by enforcement agencies, significantly improves the victims’ chances of getting the lost money back.

According to sources with the cyber investigation wing of the state police, since a majority of the complaints are filed after the golden hour, the agencies find it tough to block and retrieve the lost money. 
By the time such complaints are filed, fraudsters would have transferred the amount to accounts registered outside the country or converted it into cryptocurrencies and parked in accounts registered in countries such as China.

Sources said lost money was retrieved in more than 80% of cases in which the complaints were lodged within an hour of the crime. However, sources said only 20% of the victims report the fraud within the golden hour.

‘Tough to retrieve money converted into crypto’

Of late, the state has been witnessing cyber financial fraud at unprecedented levels with around 60 complaints registered daily.

“It’s possible to retrieve money from the fraudsters’ accounts if action is taken within an hour. The transfer between banks and e-wallets takes some time to complete. Usually, this clearance time is up to one hour. After that period, it becomes difficult to block and retrieve the amount. Once the cash is transferred to accounts registered in countries such as China, with which we don’t have any treaty regarding online fraud investigation, then it’s lost forever,” said a source.

Even within the golden hour, if fraudsters transfer the victims’ money to accounts abroad in a single transaction or convert it to cryptocurrencies, it becomes difficult to retrieve it, said the source.

There have been two recent incidents where fraudsters scammed people using fake trading websites and duped them of several lakhs. The cash was then converted into cryptocurrency and transferred, the source said. Foreign nationals were also found to be involved in these cases, which are under investigation.

The sources said upon timely reception of complaints, police take up the matter with nodal officers appointed by the banks and block the accounts and recover the money. The police maintain contacts with about 500 nodal officers appointed by the banks and the payment apps and alert them to block the accounts involved in scamming people.

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The New Indian Express
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