Kerala records over 23,000 cyber fraud complaints in 2023

According to central home ministry data, 5,055 SIM cards and 4,766 mobile phones were blocked in Kerala between January 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024 following online fraud complaints lodged on NCRP.
Representative image
Representative image

KOCHI: Two months ago, a 70 year-old Aluva resident received a call about a warrant issued against him by the Supreme Court in a case registered in Colaba police station, in Mumbai. The scammers, impersonating high-ranking police officers, conducted the call via WhatsApp, even showing a fake FIR and arrest warrant. The retired senior executive of the public undertaking was then instructed to urgently transfer money to an account as part of a security check.

The intimidation and short window of time offered appeared to do the trick. The man transferred Rs 1.15 crore over six transactions before realising it was all a scam. Aluva cyber police registered a case after he filed a complaint. The resulting probe led to the arrest of six persons.

According to central home ministry data, 5,055 SIM cards and 4,766 mobile phones were blocked in Kerala between January 1, 2023 to May 31, 2024 following online fraud complaints lodged on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal (NCRP). During the period, 21,159 complaints were lodged, with FIRs filed in 1,312 cases.

In 2023, the Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting and Management System recorded losses exceeding Rs 200 crore reported across 23,757 online fraud complaints from the state. The system was launched for immediate reporting of financial fraud and to prevent the siphoning off of funds by fraudsters. The NCRP allows the public to report various cyber crimes, with a special focus on cyber crimes against women and children. Incidents reported on this portal are converted into FIRs and managed by the respective state law enforcement agencies.

Modes of deception

Online fraud extends beyond financial deception. People have been reported to have fallen victim on being told that a parcel containing drugs with their address on it has been seized or on being accused of visiting pornographic websites and threatened them with criminal charges. There has been an increase in cases where fraudsters impersonate law enforcement officers, donning uniforms and claiming affiliation with agencies such as the CBI, NCB, or state police. Ernakulam Rural police chief Vaibhav Saxena urged the public to remain vigilant and avoid falling into traps of fraudsters. “Do not believe the promises made by online acquaintances. Be very vigilant in cyberspace,” he said.

Public helplines

The police have set up a WhatsApp number, 94979 80900, for reporting loan scams and a 24/7 toll-free helpline, 1930, to assist with lodging cyber complaints. Jiyas Jamal, founder of the NGO Cyber Suraksha Foundation, said many awareness programmes are not having their intended impact, which is a key reason for the rise in online scams. “Cyber Suraksha Foundation’s ‘Safe Net: A Zero Cyber Crime Safety Campaign’ aims to create awareness and equip citizens with the skills to protect themselves in cyberspace,” he added.

(Source: National Crime Reporting Portal)

  • 23,757 Number of complaints reported in state in 2023

  • Rs 201.8 cr Losses reported last year

  • 8,559 Number of complaints put on hold

  • Rs 36.48 cr Amount on hold

    (Source: Citizen Financial Cyber Fraud Reporting, Management System data)

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