CHENNAI: Technological advancement is largely seen as a good thing, but it is also fraught with risks, most notably cyber crimes. One cyber crime that has been on the rise lately is the SIM swap scam and one must be aware if a criminal has your number.
Fraudsters have targeted many, causing untold miseries, yet many are still unaware of the scam and keep falling prey, say police officers.
SIM swap fraud occurs when fraudsters obtain a new SIM card from a person's mobile service provider using the person's registered phone number. They can get One Time Passwords (OTPs) and other alerts required to conduct financial transactions through the person's bank account with the help of this new SIM.
Explaining the modus operandi, a senior CCB official said, using phishing e-mails impersonating banks, the fraudster obtains victim's bank account information and registered mobile number. Then, posing as the victim with fake ID proof, he or she goes to the mobile operator's outlet to have the original SIM blocked.
The operator deactivates the victim's SIM card after verification and issues a new SIM to the fraudster. Now, the fraudster can use the new SIM to obtain OTPs to conduct fraudulent transactions on victim's accounts using banking information obtained through phishing.
"The fraudsters mainly target institutions that have huge sums in current accounts. They know that cash in savings accounts will be less compared to current accounts," the CCB officer said.
She said even after fraud has taken place, the person can immediately contact the bank and ask them to freeze their account so that even if their SIM card has been compromised, no transactions can take place. She added deactivating internet banking can also help in stopping the fraudster from transferring money.
Talking about the necessary steps to take after a person has been cheated, Cyber Crime SP MR Sibi Chakravarty said the minute a victim realises they have been scammed, the person should immediately get in touch with the police.
"The victim can call 155260 to inform the police about cyber crimes and the police will guide them along the way till the final step," he said. In the first week of January, the CCB busted a SIM swapping racket and arrested a four-member gang from a hideout in West Bengal who stole Rs 24 lakh from a city-based eye hospital.