Saturday, May 30, 2009

City’s e-crooks eye cash gains

Mateen Hafeez I TNN
Mumbai: Cyber crime, a majority of it involving financial theft, is on the rise in the city, with the police recording 775 cases overall in 2008. In the first five months of 2009, the Cyber Crime Investigation Cell (CCIC) has already registered 539 cases.

At least 292 of 2008’s cases directly involved financial e-fraud, with 145 cases involving credit card fraud, 122 cases involving phishing for cheating and 25 involving Nigerian frauds, job racketing and lottery scams.

This year, the number of financial e-fraud cases has already reached 287, just five less than the 2008 tally. Of these cases, there has been a huge jump in credit card fraud, with 187 cases already filed in five months. Another 65 cases involve phishing and 35 involve Nigerian frauds, racketing and lottery frauds.

Alarmingly, Mumbai is showing a penchant for one of the more sophisticated cyber crimes in use globally today, namely phishing. This usually involves creating fake emails or webpages to lure

computer users into divulging information like credit card numbers, bank account numbers, passwords and so on.

The first case of phishing was registered in Mumbai way back in February 2005 with the Sakinaka police. Then in 2006, ICICI Bank filed a complaint with the Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) police after its customers complained about being asked to validate or confirm account details through a seemingly innocuous e-mail ID ( When the cyber crime police began investigating the case, they found that a scamster had used customer details to purchase goods on the net. The phisher had also made a clone of the ICICI Bank website to convince users.

“Web crime appears to be the crime of the future,’’ said
joint commisssioner of police (crime) Rakesh Maria. “With increasing computer literacy, educated people are indulging in such activities. We have been speaking to students in schools and colleges, their parents and so on.’’ He added that while e-banking was introduced to make banking easier, criminals are using it as a tool for theft.

The types of financial efraud cases are varied. Here are a few:
A Dahisar resident informed the police that his bank had told him that his credit card was used to buy Rs 1.5 lakh worth of air tickets.
A Pune-based man received an email from ‘Nigeria’ stating that his ancestors’ property had been discovered and he had to pay the legal fee of Rs 6 lakh. The victim sold his house to pay the money. Later, it was discovered that the mail originated from a cyber cafe in Mumbai.
A Worli-based businessman, who purchased a BMW car, received an email saying that his license-plate number had been chosen in a draw that entitled him to another BMW. He was asked
to deposit Rs 12 lakh in an account as a fee. He never got the second car.

The latter two cases indicate social engineering, where the victim has been spied on and cultivated. The Pune man had to have had a reason to believe he had African property and the Worli businessman’s cheaters knew he had recently bought a BMW. In other words, they were not entirely random attacks.

In the case of credit card fraud, the perpetrators in the city are not yet getting their details via the net, but through befriending employees who swipe cards that are legitimately swiped at restaurants, petrol pumps or malls. The employees either divulge information or card readers are used. The details are then used to commit online fraud.

The Times of India, May 30, 2009

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