In a wave of cybercrime that has left bureaucrats and officials in a state of distress, online offenders have resorted to hacking the profiles and accounts of top-level government authorities. These cyber perpetrators have been employing various deceitful tactics, including sending spam links, fake messages, OTPs (One Time Passwords), and placing deceptive calls, creating chaos and apprehension among the administrative personnel.
Sophisticated Fraud Techniques
According to an investigation officer familiar with the ongoing cybercrime surge, the fraudsters are resorting to multifaceted methods to carry out their illicit activities. These tactics range from hacking into the accounts of high-ranking officials to sending misleading links and requests to their acquaintances, family members, and colleagues.
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Impersonation Tactics Unveiled
The cybercrime official revealed that the fraudulent activities have extended to impersonating celebrities, political figures, and officers. Exploiting this guise, the scammers have solicited money from individuals by fabricating urgent situations and pressuring victims into transferring funds.
Recent Targeted Attacks
In a recent series of targeted attacks, cybercriminals aimed their efforts at officials within the NTR and Guntur districts. By fabricating WhatsApp accounts that mirrored the profiles of district Collectors and the Superintendent of Police (SP), the offenders attempted to dupe unsuspecting individuals.
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Detailing one such incident, the Cyber Crime police stated, “In NTR district, the accused orchestrated a fake WhatsApp group, featuring the profile photo of NTR District Collector S. Dilli Rao. Subsequently, the perpetrator urged officers to transfer money via Google Pay”
Alerts and Cautionary Measures
Thankfully, some individuals, particularly a few women Tahsildars (Mandal Revenue Officers), discerned the fraudulent nature of the messages. They raised red flags as the fraudsters mistakenly addressed them as ‘Sir.’ An investigation is underway to ascertain the extent of responses to these messages and the monetary losses incurred.
Expressing his dismay, Dilli Rao, the NTR District Collector, shared, “I immediately alerted all personnel within the Revenue Department, advising them not to engage with these fraudulent communications. It was disconcerting to witness my profile photos attached to these fake accounts.”
Authorities, alarmed by the increasing number of cybercrimes, including OTP frauds, issued a public advisory. They urged individuals to refrain from sharing OTPs with others and cautioned against clicking on unfamiliar links, regardless of the urgency presented by the caller.
Unreported Incidents and Ongoing Investigations
Police authorities are actively pursuing leads to identify the registered owners of the mobile numbers used to create the fake accounts. They are tracing the pathways through which the fraudulent amounts were being transferred, spanning across various cities and states, notably Delhi, Bihar, and Rajasthan.
Despite the ongoing investigations, officers lament the underreporting of cybercrimes. “Many instances remain unreported, hampering our efforts to bring the culprits to justice,” stated a police official.
Official Response and Investigations
Kanthi Rana Tata, the Police Commissioner, acknowledged the severity of the situation, stating, “Miscreants have perpetrated these crimes, and we are diligently investigating each case to bring the fraudsters to justice.”
As authorities intensify efforts to combat these cyber threats, they urge the public to remain vigilant and report any suspicious activities promptly.
The quest to apprehend these cyber offenders continues, with law enforcement agencies striving to safeguard the integrity and security of government officials and the public at large amidst these troubling cyber onslaughts.