Support

Explore

HomeNo Image is Available
About UsNo Image is Available
AuthorsNo Image is Available
TeamNo Image is Available
CareersNo Image is Available
InternshipNo Image is Available
Contact UsNo Image is Available
MethodologyNo Image is Available
Correction PolicyNo Image is Available
Non-Partnership PolicyNo Image is Available
Cookie PolicyNo Image is Available
Grievance RedressalNo Image is Available
Republishing GuidelinesNo Image is Available

Languages & Countries :






More about them

Fact CheckNo Image is Available
LawNo Image is Available
ExplainersNo Image is Available
NewsNo Image is Available
DecodeNo Image is Available
BOOM ReportsNo Image is Available
Media BuddhiNo Image is Available
Web StoriesNo Image is Available
BOOM ResearchNo Image is Available
WorkshopsNo Image is Available
VideosNo Image is Available

Support

Explore

HomeNo Image is Available
About UsNo Image is Available
AuthorsNo Image is Available
TeamNo Image is Available
CareersNo Image is Available
InternshipNo Image is Available
Contact UsNo Image is Available
MethodologyNo Image is Available
Correction PolicyNo Image is Available
Non-Partnership PolicyNo Image is Available
Cookie PolicyNo Image is Available
Grievance RedressalNo Image is Available
Republishing GuidelinesNo Image is Available

Languages & Countries :






More about them

Fact CheckNo Image is Available
LawNo Image is Available
ExplainersNo Image is Available
NewsNo Image is Available
DecodeNo Image is Available
BOOM ReportsNo Image is Available
Media BuddhiNo Image is Available
Web StoriesNo Image is Available
BOOM ResearchNo Image is Available
WorkshopsNo Image is Available
VideosNo Image is Available
Decode

What Is ‘Digital Arrest’, A New Form Of Cybercrime?

Cyber police from four different states, including the national capital, have reported around four such cases in the past seven months.

By - Kaisar Andrabi | 4 Jan 2024 6:21 AM GMT

In what could possibly be a movie script, scammers held a woman, a resident of Noida, under ‘digital arrest’ over a Skype call for an entire day by pretending to be cops. The result: they duped her of Rs 11 lakhs.

On the morning of November 13, the woman received a call from the scammer who identified as a police officer from Mumbai. Reetu Yadav, in-charge of cyber crime police station Noida sector 36, where the woman eventually filed a complaint, narrated to Decode on how the events unfolded.

The scammer told the woman that her Aadhaar card had been used to buy a SIM card, which is connected to a money laundering case in Mumbai. They told her that an arrest warrant had been issued in her name.

The scammer then convinced the woman to transfer all her savings to an ICICI bank account. She was even forced to apply for a loan of Rs 3 lakhs to make the total payment of Rs 11 lakhs.

Officer Yadav told Decode that the woman didn’t even realise she had been scammed for a day. “She told us that at first she was afraid to share what had transpired, and only days later realised she had fallen victim to an elaborate online scam,” Yadav said.

A new scam that has surfaced in the realm of cybercrime is like hypnotizing people who find themselves “digitally arrested” for days.

Cyber police from four different states, including the national capital, have reported around four such cases in the past seven months.

Decode spoke with cyber police from Haryana, Uttar Pradesh, and cyber experts to understand what this “digital arrest” means and the tactics employed by scammers in this new scam.

What Is ‘Digital Arrest’ Scam?

According to the police, the scammer first called the woman on her phone and later asked her to join a Skype call with a man who identified himself as an IPS officer.

“He conveyed to her that she was under interrogation for alleged involvement in certain crimes, including money laundering, as they had linked her to,” the officer said.

Over a Skype call, the scammers not only frightened the Noida based woman with the money laundering case but claimed that an arrest warrant was issued against her. Fabricated documents were presented to her via Skype.

According to the victim, she noticed a setup resembling a proper police station in the background, adorned with photos of India's freedom fighters on the walls, accompanied by the distant sounds of wireless communication.

Throughout the session, the scammers insisted on her silence and constant online presence. She was ensured not to share this information with anyone or disconnect the call, citing ‘national security’ as the reason, implying potential repercussions.

This purported senior officer questioned her for nearly half an hour, the police told Decode. They told her that they found 246 debit cards, belonging to the prime accused, the founder of the airline, at his residence. To her shock, one of these cards bore the name of the Noida woman and had been utilized to open a bank account using her Aadhaar card.

The fraudsters played a next trick by telling her that she seemed to be innocent in the case. However, to aid the investigation, she was directed to transfer funds and then if they found no involvement of her, her money would be returned.

In the end, to give her a false sense of assurance regarding her innocence, they coerced her into virtually signing several fake documents under the pretext of validating the investigation.

This is not an isolated case of “digital arrest.”' In October, a 23-year-old woman from Faridabad, Haryana, was held for 17 days under “digital arrest” by scammers and eventually duped of Rs 2.5 lakh.

Speaking to Decode, a senior cyber officer from Faridabad, wishing anonymity, pointed out that the scammers have shifted their tactics to target individuals through Skype calls.

“Earlier, they used to deceive people by claiming that a parcel with their Aadhar ID, sent from Mumbai to Taiwan, was seized for carrying illegal materials. They would then initiate certain investigations and later trick them into sending money,” he explained. However, this scam was widely exposed and proved less effective.

The officer mentioned that this time, fraudsters adopted a new strategy by employing virtual calls and posing as police officers. “It is highly unlikely for people to doubt someone appearing in a police uniform,” he explained.

A similar approach was followed in the Faridabad case, where the victim endured a 17-day ‘digital’ arrest, being coerced to arrange money under the threat of a police vehicle being sent to arrest her.

One of them claimed an FIR was filed against her, linking her to a bank official accused of human trafficking. In her complaint, she mentioned the fake police citing complaints that accused her of duping people of Rs 3.80 crore for sending children abroad. A fake CBI officer then demanded Rs 15 lakh, threatening arrest if she couldn’t pay.

In both instances, the cyber police have filed cases under applicable laws, and investigations are ongoing. However, the senior police officer noted that delayed action in cyber cases often hampers the likelihood of apprehending the culprits.

How is remote access software used in the ‘digital arrest’ scam?

According to data released by Delhi’s Cyber Police, there has been a significant surge in cyber fraud cases, with over 25,000 cases filed till August this year. This marks a substantial 212% increase compared to the 8,000 cases reported during the same period last year.

These cases encompass a variety of frauds, including UPI fraud, bank scams, and email scams, resulting in a financial loss exceeding Rs 200 crore this year in Delhi.

In 2022, cybercrime cases surged by 24.4%, as per recent National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) data. Karnataka, Telangana, and Maharashtra, relatively affluent states, contributed over half of these cases.

Shubham Singh, a cybersecurity expert closely collaborating with government cyber investigation agencies, explained that scammers employ various tactics to induce fear in victims. This includes making false accusations and divulging personal information such as Aadhaar details or the name of their bank account.

He explained that the scammers leverage the threat of legal action and immediate arrest to coerce victims into settling the matter through financial means.

“They strategically isolate victims to gain control: They might deceive individuals into installing remote access software like Anydesk or TeamViewer on their devices. This grants the scammers control over the victims’ online activities, enabling them to monitor actions and pilfer sensitive information,” he elaborated.