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Over 1,000 Skype IDs Blocked: Inside the Government’s Battle Against ‘Digital Arrest’ Scams

– Fake officials use Skype to enforce ‘Digital Arrests’
– Government blocks over 1,000 IDs to combat fraud



Beware of Impersonation Scams: Cybercriminals Posing as Law Enforcement Target Citizens
AI Generated Image - Scammers in India are increasingly using sophisticated tactics like impersonating police officers in video calls to threaten and extort money from unsuspecting citizens

NEW DELHI: The central government has issued an urgent alert warning citizens about cybercriminals posing as law enforcement or government officials to extort money and threaten individuals with “Digital Arrests.” This announcement follows the recent blocking of over 1,000 Skype IDs used in such fraudulent activities.

Understanding Digital Arrests

“Digital Arrest” is a form of cybercrime where fraudsters pretend to be government officials or law enforcement authorities. They accuse their targets of involvement in illegal activities and demand money to resolve the fabricated issues. According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, the National Cyber Crime Reporting Portal (NCRP) has seen a surge in complaints about intimidation, blackmail, and extortion by these cybercriminals.

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The Modus Operandi

The Ministry of Home Affairs detailed the common tactics used by these criminals:

  • Initial Contact: Fraudsters call potential victims, claiming that they are involved in illegal activities, such as sending or receiving parcels containing drugs or fake passports.
  • Threats: They may also state that a relative of the victim is in custody due to a crime or accident.
  • Monetary Demands: To avoid further trouble, victims are asked to pay a significant amount of money.
  • Digital Arrests: In some cases, victims are made to stay on video calls via platforms like Skype until they comply with the demands. The criminals use fake studios resembling police stations and wear uniforms to appear credible.

Government Actions by Indian Cyber Crime Coordination Centre (I4C)

The I4C, part of the Ministry of Home Affairs, has been actively working to curb these fraudulent activities. In collaboration with Microsoft, the I4C has blocked over 1,000 Skype IDs associated with these scams. They are also facilitating the blocking of SIM cards, mobile devices, and bank accounts used by the fraudsters. Last October, a joint operation by Microsoft, Amazon, and the CBI led to search and seizure actions in call centers across several states.

ALSO READ: Join the Movement: Future Crime Research Foundation Launches State Chapters to Build a Cyber-Safe India


Department of Telecommunications (DoT)

The Department of Telecommunications (DoT), under the Ministry of Communications, has issued advisories to alert citizens about fake calls threatening disconnection. The DoT clarified that it does not make such calls and has taken several measures to combat suspected fraud communications:

  • CHAKSHU Facility: As part of the Sanchar Saathi initiative, 52 entities sending malicious and phishing SMSs have been blacklisted.
  • SMS and Handset Blocks: 700 SMS templates were deactivated, and 348 mobile handsets were blacklisted nationwide.
  • Re-verification and Disconnections: Out of 10,834 suspected mobile numbers flagged for re-verification, 8,272 were disconnected due to failed re-verification as of April 30, 2024.
  • Handset Blocks: 8.6 million mobile handsets were blocked nationwide for involvement in cybercrime and financial fraud.

How to Protect Yourself

The government urges citizens to stay vigilant and report any suspicious calls or threats to the cybercrime helpline number 1930 or via the portal Awareness and prompt reporting are key to combating these cybercrimes.

With cybercriminals constantly evolving their tactics, it is crucial for both authorities and the public to remain proactive. The collaborative efforts of government agencies, technology companies, and law enforcement are essential in addressing this threat. Increased awareness and immediate reporting can help safeguard individuals and the community from falling prey to these digital scams.

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