MHA forms inter-ministerial panel to tackle SE Asia cybercrime threats

The police are now working to identify these agents, trace the network, and bust the human trafficking racket.
Cyber security
Cyber security | File Photo

HYDERABAD : A day after the Indian Embassy in Cambodia rescued 60 Indian nationals trapped in cyber fraud camps at Sihanoukville, the Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C) announced on Wednesday that a high-level inter-ministerial committee has been constituted by the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) to tackle cybercrime threats originating from southeast asia region.

The committee, chaired by the MHA’s special secretary for internal security, will coordinate with relevant ministries and departments like the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA), social media intermediaries, and law enforcement agencies.

The announcement comes two days after around 300 trafficked Indian youth protested against their handlers in Sihanoukville. Only a few days before the protest, the Vizag police arrested three agents involved in luring gullible youngsters to the cyber fraud camps with the promise of providing data operator jobs in Cambodia.

Meanwhile, the Telangana police told TNIE that they have been in touch with the I4C since April following the rescue of a Sircilla-based youngster who was caught in one of the cyber fraud camps in Sihanoukville.

The case, initially investigated by the Rajanna Sircilla police, was transferred to the Telangana State Cyber Security Bureau (TSCSB) last week.

So far, the police have arrested two local agents and issued look out circulars (LOCs) against two others, who currently reside in Dubai and Maldives.

Speaking to TNIE, TSCSB SP Devender Singh said, “We are interrogating the agents and trying to identify how many youngsters from Telangana have been trapped in the scam.”

Explaining how this job fraud functions, TSCSB DSP KVM Prasad said, “The local agents who arrange for youngsters to work at these camps are sometimes not completely aware of the nature of the job. Yet, with no proper verification, they promise the victims a well-paying job and end up getting involved in the crime.”

Often, these local agents are in touch with other agents in different countries who have connections with the traffickers, the police said.

The police are now working to identify these agents, trace the network, and bust the human trafficking racket.

Earlier in April, a 27-year-old man from Sircilla, who travelled to Cambodia seeking employment as a software operator, fell prey to a job fraud and was forced to work at a Chinese-operated cyber fraud call centre in Sihanoukville.

The victim was conned by unlicensed local agents who sent him on a travel visa to Cambodia, where his passport was seized and he was trapped in the cyber fraud camp.

Speaking to Sircilla police, the victim had earlier revealed that, like him, there were around 500 to 600 Indians trapped in the centre where he was forced to work. He also identified one of them as being from Jagtial; he was also reportedly sent to Cambodia by the same agent.

All the victims were trained to commit various types of cyber fraud on Indian citizens.

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