It’s a double whammy for victim cyber crimes. Firstly, investigators have failed to nab the prime culprits. Secondly, the “flaws” in the legal system have apparently delayed and denied justice to victims. The case of Sanjay Govind Dhande, a resident of Pune, who lost Rs 19 lakh to cyber fraudsters, is a case in example.
A noted educationist and former director of the prestigious IIT Kanpur, Dhande was honoured with Padmashri in 2013. The same year, he lost a major part of his “life savings” to cyber criminals.
Cyber criminals hacked Dhande’s account in ICICI’s Aundh branch in Pune in September 2013 and withdrew Rs 19 lakh from it through multiple illegal online transactions. They managed to block his mobile phone SIM card of Vodafone. Due to it, Dhande did not get any alerts from the bank regarding these transactions. Dhande got to know about it only after he got a call from the bank that his balance had gone below the lowest limit. Dhande then filed a complaint with the ICICI bank and also with the Chauhrshrungi police station.
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Probe revealed that Dhande’s money was transferred to 11 bank accounts in Mumbai, West Bengal, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. The money was withdrawn soon after it got transferred. After probe, police arrested three of these account holders from Mumbai. Fraudsters had paid them Rs 3,000 each for using their bank accounts. Account-holders from other places were not arrested. Probe also revealed the fraudsters has obtained a duplicate SIM card of Dhande’s contact number in Nagpur. Those involved in SIM card swapping have not being traced as yet.
Legal process stuck
Dhande filed a complaint with the office of adjudicating officer, information technology (IT) department of state government, demanding compensation from ICICI bank and Vodafone. In January 2014, IT secretary Rajesh Agarwal, who was the judge for special court of IT department, ordered Vodafone to pay Rs 12 lakh and ICICI to pay Rs 6 lakh to Dhande as compensation. “The court considered there were lapses by Vodafone and ICICI and ordered compensation. But both Vodafone and ICICI moved Cyber Appellate Tribunal in Delhi against this order. Vodafone gave me Rs 12 lakh, but it came with a letter saying I could not use the money. So I have kept it in fixed deposit. ICICI authorities were about to pay the compensation, but they simple backed off. The bank moved Bombay High Court in this case. The HC will not start the trial till the Cyber Appellate Tribunal in Delhi passes any order. However, for the last few years, no chairman has been appointed at the tribunal. So no appeals are heard and no orders are being passed. I keep getting new dates. It is like ‘tareekh pe tareekh’ (date after date)… The recent date was on June 26. Nothing happened on the day… So technically I have recovered nothing that I lost. Besides, I have spent nearly Rs 4 lakh more towards legal expenses,” said Dhande.
‘Insurance of money of account holders needed’
Dhande said police did a fine job, particularly inspector Sanjay Tungar of cyber crime cell, but they arrested persons only at the tertiary level. “Culprits at the secondary and primary levels in this chain are at large. So my money was not recovered,” said Dhande.“There should be a provision for insurance of bank account holders. The account holder can pay some amount as premium. Victims can then claim financial losses in cyber attacks. Banks should also strengthen their IT cells. Banks report to the RBI, where as telecom companies report to the telecom ministry. There is no co-ordination between the RBI and the telecom ministry. We need an interface between these two authorities… It is important for cyber security. Unsecured Digital India is dangerous,” Dhande said.